“Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.” (Acts 21:13–14, AV)
I remember hearing of a man in a third-world country who was sentenced to be executed for a crime committed. A group of men visited the man in jail and he came to faith in Jesus Christ. Showing signs of repentance, the men went to the magistrates and pleaded for the condemned man’s life. They asked for mercy. Unfortunately, the magistrates would not relent and change their decision. On the day of the execution, the men visited the condemned man and they began to cry. The condemned man said to them, “Why are you crying? You are making me sad. In a little while I will close my eyes for a second and then I will see Jesus!”
Here, in this passage Paul makes nearly the same statement. On his journey to Jerusalem, he had received several warnings of danger and trials that awaited him there (Acts 20:23). In Tyre, “through the Spirit,” the disciples warned Paul not go to Jerusalem (v4). Later, the prophet Agabus told Paul that the Jews will bind Paul and hand him over to the Gentiles (v11). In response, the disciples plead with Paul not to go (v12). Yet, Paul did not change his course.
Some Bible students debate Paul’s response to continue on the journey. Some believe that Paul was disobedient to the guidance of the Spirit. Others believe that Paul was perfectly obedient and that all the warnings that Paul received from the Spirit were just that, warnings.
We get a better picture when we look at Paul’s decision recorded earlier. “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there” (Acts 20:22, ESV). Here he determined to go to Jerusalem yielded to the control of the Spirit. Yet while led of the Spirit, he also went with warnings from the Spirit. Here the disciples in Tyre give a warning based upon the revelation of the hardship that awaited Paul. Yet Paul chose to obey the leading of the Spirit in spite of the warnings.
Paul stated, “What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart?” Sometimes, while we are on our journey with the Lord, we will go where it is uncomfortable and to places where others may not like. The weeping can affect the servant of God emotionally. Yet, the servant of God who is led by the Spirit will not waver from his or her course. The true servant is prepared to face what ever comes and will trust the Lord in it. Paul’s strength in this was a demonstration of faith to all he met on this journey.
It often takes great courage for us to release someone we love to the purposes of God. For example, it can take courage to let our children move and go off to college. It can take courage to let our children marry and move away. It can take courage to see those whom we love move to a ministry area far away from us. It takes courage as a minister to send off the key people, who we love, from the church to start a new work elsewhere. However, we cannot let our emotions interfere with what the Lord is doing in the lives of our loved ones. We should never attempt to thwart the plans and purposes of God. We must come to the same conclusion as the disciples of Tyre. We must cease in our obstruction to the purposes of God and conclude, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”