God Knows…When I’m in Deep Water – Part 2
The ship carrying Paul as prisoner collapsed and all those aboard had to escape to shore. As the passengers, crew, prisoners and soldiers clustered on the beach, they discovered they were on the island of Malta. The islanders gave them a kind welcome. They lit a big fire there in the cold and rain so the unexpected visitors could dry out and get warm. Paul, ever practical and helpful, helped gather sticks for the fire. As he threw them on the fire, a snake, roused by the heat, came out and fastened itself on his hand. The bystanders were horrified. “He must be a murderer,” they said. “He’s escaped from the sea, but justice won’t let him live!”
Paul shook off the snake into the fire. Everyone watched. They expected Paul to fall down dead, or at least to swell up in the agonies of serious snakebite. Nothing happened. Now the local people whispered, “He must be a god.” This opened the way for Paul to talk about the true God.
Publius, the chief man of the island, invited Paul and his friends to his home. There Paul visited Publius’ sick father and prayed that God would heal him. God did heal him. When other sick people heard this they came, too, and God also gave them back their health. Many learned about Jesus and believed in Him. God had used a disaster to bring blessing.
Three months later when the delayed travelers set sail on another ship, the thankful islanders gave them gifts and supplies for the rest of the journey.
Arrival in Rome
At last the travelers landed at Puteoli, near Naples, Italy, a seaport about 150 miles (235 km) south of Rome. Word spread quickly among the Christians. “Paul has landed in Italy! He’s a prisoner! He’s on his way to Rome to appear before Caesar!”
With a heavy heart Paul started out on the march to Rome. It seemed to him that he was in deep water again. Chained to his soldier guard, he wondered if the trip would be fruitless. For so many years he had hoped to bring God’s truth to Rome, the capital of the world. But he hadn’t dreamed it would be like this—chained with a group of tough-looking criminals and met by rude remarks on the busy highway.
But a wonderful thing happened. Again and again along the way Christians ran out to greet Paul. Some remembered him for Corinth, Philippi, or Ephesus. They told him how much he meant to them, how grateful they were that Paul had shared with them the hope and joy of the Christian life. It was refreshing as a breath of clean air. Paul thanked God and took courage. He remembered that the he was never alone. He belonged to a world-wide family of God’s children. God’s presence was with him. Unseen angels were around him.
In Rome, Paul was given permission to stay in his own rented house. He was chained to a soldier all the time, but people were able to visit him. For two years he presented the truth daily “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him” (Acts 28:31). Here the book of Acts ends. In roughly 30 years the good news of Christianity had swept from Jerusalem to Rome, the center of the world.