- to locate Jerusalem on a map
- to communicate the main events that happened when Paul returned to Jerusalem
Paul travels from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
Paul’s third missionary journey is over and he is following the prompting of the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem knowing that trials await him. He will be visiting Herod’s Temple, which is the same temple Jesus visited. Keep in mind that Paul studied under the Pharisee Gamaliel. It is quite possible that Paul was around when Jesus taught in the temple or turned over the tables of the money changers. The scriptures do not tell us these things, but I have a feeling that Paul knew quite a bit about the teacher named Jesus.
Main Events of the Story:
Paul arrived in Jerusalem and he visited with the church including James, the brother of Jesus. He told them about the events of his journeys and his ministry to the Gentiles. The brethren of the church were overjoyed and glorified God! The brothers sobered down and told Paul that the Jewish Council would want to meet once they heard that Paul was back in town because people had been accusing Paul of teaching Jews to forsake Moses and their customs. But they had a plan!
Paul was to go into the temple with 4 Jewish brethren who were ending their time of vows. These vows were probably Nazirite vows which Jews would take periodically for different reasons. Some examples of people with Nazirite vows from scripture would be Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist. During their time of vow, the Jews would not drink anything from grapes and would not cut their hair. So Paul was to go with them and pay for the men to have their heads shaven, which would show the temple leaders that the vows were complete and that Paul really did still abide by the Jewish customs.
The plan failed. A handful of Jews from Asia were in the temple when Paul arrived and they began to stir up the crowd accusing Paul of teaching all men to be against the Jews and for allowing Greeks into the temple to defile it. The men grabbed Paul, all the city was disturbed, and they dragged him out of the temple and the doors were shut. While the Jews were seeking to kill Paul, the Commander of the Garrison heard about the uproar and immediately he and some soldiers went to the area. They stopped the beating of Paul, placed him in two chains and asked the crowd who this was and what he did. There were conflicting answers so that the Commander could not “ascertain the truth” so he started to take Paul to the barracks. When they got to the stairs, soldiers had to carry Paul because of what the mob did to him. As Paul is leaving, the crowd begans to say, “Away with him!”
Paul would not have missed the gravity of this moment. The soldiers were taking him to the Antonia Fortress which is across the Court of the Gentiles from Herod’s Temple. The staircase the soldiers were using would take Paul up to the very platform where Pilate presented Jesus to the multitude.
Paul asked the Commander if he could speak to the crowd. Once given permission, Paul got the crowd quiet and then proceeded to give his testimony. He told his story, but when he got to the part about Jesus telling him to go to the Gentiles, the mob began to yell and scream. They yell out, ” Away with him! He’s not fit to live!” Wow. Talk about being in the footsteps of Jesus…
The Commander took Paul into the barracks and prepared him to be scourged. While bound, Paul asked, “Is it lawful for you to scourge an uncondemned man?”
“Are you a Roman?
“Hmmm…I had to pay a lot of money for my Roman citizenship.”
“I was born a Roman citizen.”
Immediately Paul was unbound, but the Commander still wanted to understand what was going on. He released Paul, but commanded the Chief Priests and the counsel to appear before him and Paul was to stand before them.
And thus the trials begin.
It is quite possible that Paul literally stood in the footsteps of Jesus. Paul knew that suffering was going to take place in Jerusalem. But he went anyway and he went boldly in the Lord. He knew who he was. He knew the calling God had placed on his life and he was not ashamed. Paul knew that his life was temporary, but that eternal life with Jesus was waiting for him. Paul did not have his eyes on what was in front of him. His eyes were on the Prize, the Goal, the Truth, the Son.
What about you? Are you willing to take a stand for Jesus? Are you ashamed? What are you focused on?
Anne Marie is a Bible Teacher and Bible curriculum writer with more than 25 years of experience. She has created Bible lessons and taught children about Jesus at churches, camps, Christian Schools, and conferences. She is the owner of FutureFlyingSaucers Resources where she helps busy parents and church leaders teach fun, flexible, multi-age, budget-friendly bible object lessons that enhance the spiritual growth of children. She lives with her husband and three children in South Carolina.