The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome." - Acts 23:11 Two of the most profound words ever spoken were given to a tired, hurting man one night in a desolate prison.
Paul had come to Jerusalem with the hope of massive acceptance of the Gospel by his fellow Jewish people. He even underwent the traditional seven days of purification rites with several of his Jewish friends and paid for all the expenses. But his hopes were dashed when near the end of the seven days some visiting Jews from Asia recognized him and spread the word: “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and our laws and this place” (Acts 21:28).
A violent mob broke out, and Paul was beaten and bloodied, until he proclaimed his Roman citizenship. That stalled the ugly mood of the crowd and he took the opportunity to preach the resurrection! But another violent riot broke out and the commander in charge was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces, so he put him in jail.
This was one of the darkest days of Paul’s life.
Sitting in his cell, bruised and bleeding, Paul was visited by the Lord Himself, and received the words above.
Tharseo, the Greek word for courage here, means, “Take heart.”
Jesus used the word frequently. To the paralytic He said, “Take heart, your sins are forgiven (Matthew 9:2).
To the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years, He said, “Take heart [courage], daughter, your faith has healed you” (Matthew 9:22).
To the frightened disciples on the Sea of Galilee, He said, “Take courage, it is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27). On the eve of His crucifixion, He told his disciples, “Take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
This is His word to all of us, no matter how feeble or flawed we are, whatever the difficulties and circumstances. “Take heart,” He says. “I will be there.”
[Photo: Adam Guyer, CreationSwap]