Acts 28: 1–10: A trip to Malta.
“Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, ‘This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.’ 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god. 7 There was an estate near by that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. 8 His father was ill in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of those on the island who were ill came and were cured. 10 They honoured us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.” NIV
‘Let us shake off temptation. We cannot prevent its attacking us, but we need not take the viper into our heart.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary,’ p.502.
I’m sure this trip to Malta was not on Paul’s itinerary when he departed for Rome, but the Lord clearly had work for him to do there, and something remarkable happened on the island. I have a Maltese friend who loves his homeland, and he has shown me photographs of what is believed to be the shipwreck site. The people of Malta showed the people from the wreck ‘kindness with a plus in it’ (2). They saw their needs and did what they could to meet them.
I can’t help but smile at the fickleness of human nature though, even amongst such a wonderful people (3-6). One minute they thought the worst of Paul; the next, they might have been tempted to worship him. Human opinion can change like the direction of the wind.
‘Paul’s unfailing influence for good shows what a blessing even one Christian man can be wherever he goes, if he lives in the power of God.’ F.B. Meyer (as above).