42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.
In these verses, the plight of Paul and his companions went from bad to worse…but there was still hope. They were shipwrecked in an unfamiliar land, hungry, thirsty and probably in need of medical help. However, instead of being given safe refuge, they were almost executed by their captors. But dramatically, the Centurion interceded on their behalf and every single captive made it to shore safely – even the ones who couldn’t swim! So, why did the Centurion risk his status (and perhaps his life) by allowing these men to go to ashore? Did he see Paul as a man of integrity who would not attempt an escape when given the opportunity? Was he moved by seeing a group of starving captives still living out their faith with gratefulness and joy? Or was it simply that the Holy Spirit moved in the Centurion’s heart in inexplicable ways? No matter the reason, his decision spared Paul and his men from certain death. This passage once again shows God’s provisions and protection. Like the Hebrews wandering in the desert, Paul and his companions were given enough to keep going. They had nothing to rely on but God Himself. We all have times when life seems to be going from bad to worse. It is natural to let become disillusioned with God or pessimistic about the future. But for those who keep their eyes on Jesus, there are always reasons be hopeful, as God Himself will always provide what we need (Charlie Engelmann).
Thoughts for the day
- Why do you think the Centurion protected Paul and his companions?
- Did Paul’s Christ-like qualities inspire confidence? Or was it simply a work of the Spirit?
- How has God sustained you during difficult chapters in your life?
- As expats, sometimes we also feel ‘shipwrecked in an unfamiliar land.” As followers of Christ, how should our lives be different from those who do not share our faith?
Pray the Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:9-13:
“OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN,
HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME,
YOUR KINGDOM COME,
YOUR WILL BE DONE,
ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.
GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY BREAD.
AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS,
AS WE ALSO HAVE FORGIVEN OUR DEBTORS.
AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION,
BUT DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE.”
And Think of someone who you know that seems to be on a metaphorical sinking ship. Pray that God leads him/her safely to shore and reveals His loving plans for their life.