21 After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” (Acts 27:21-26 NIV)
This crisis comes after a long series of setbacks along the way. Paul either through common sense or prophetic insight or both had warned them that danger was likely.
Paul offers them courage as a consequence of faith in God. He also tells them the truth – that they will wreck but their lives will be saved.
Luke only relates the story of the angelic vision second-hand via Paul.
The suggestion in vs. 24 is that Paul’s traveling companions are spared because of Paul (?)
It is so easy to say “I told you so!” I admit to taking a perverse pleasure at times at being proven right (which I always am, of course!). Paul certainly doesn’t pretend he was wrong. But his message is one of encouragement rather than judgment, an affirmation of God rather than a condemnation of their foolishness.
As Lent begins it is well to remember that Jesus faced his suffering and death with courage – a courage that was rooted in his faith in his Father and in the purposes of God being made real in him. So Paul advises courage grounded in faith (rather than in some supposed courage that the person has in himself).
God’s purposes will triumph, even when our lives are shipwrecked. Faith in God will be vindicated if not always in the ways we want or hope.
God of Hope, give me courage today to face whatever this day brings. Give me courage rooted in you – in my faith in you rather than in me. May I take courage from your reliability and your promises, in the truth that your purposes and mission are greater than anything I may face. In the name of the one who faced the cross with courage, Jesus, I pray. Amen.