Acts 20:13-17 (NIV)
We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Kios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus. Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.
From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.
The majority of Paul’s group boarded the ship he had taken passage on and sailed around the point of land between Troas and Assos. Paul, on the other hand, walked across the point and met the ship at Assos.
Paul was anxious to reach Jerusalem soon, preferably by the day of Pentecost, so he could celebrate the feast there. He had been gone for a few years at this point and hadn’t been able to get to Jerusalem for any of the feast days. But he was also cautious. He knew that there were still people out there anxious to silence, or even kill him. So, he took no chances and walked for the first leg of the journey.
Paul knew that if he took time to stop in Ephesus, he would be prevailed upon to stay for some time and would miss his window to arrive in Jerusalem on time. So, he made the decision to sail past Ephesus and to stop instead at the next port to the south, Miletus. He wanted to see the leaders of the Ephesus Church, but figured that if he had them come to him there, he could meet them with less chance of them begging him to visit the city again. So, he sent a message to Ephesus to extend the invitation, knowing that they would come quickly.
Father, this narrative seems insignificant on first reading, but there is a clear message in it for us. When we catch a vision from You, we can get so driven toward the goal line that we can pass by opportunities for ministry that lie along the way. Just as Jesus stopped along the road to Jerusalem on His last journey in order to do ministry, teach, heal, change lives, and restore sight, without losing track of his destination or timeline, so Paul did on this journey by ministering to the Ephesian elders, but doing it in a way that allowed him to stick to his timetable. That’s a great lesson. Thank You! Amen.
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