From Pete Williamson
In today’s passage, Paul is on the way to Jerusalem when a prophet stops him and dramatically tells him that he’s going to be captured in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans as a criminal.
Understandably, Paul’s companions tell him not to go to Jerusalem, but he declares that he’s not afraid to be imprisoned. In fact, he’s not afraid to die.
Paul is a man whose life is utterly defined by Jesus, the man who once was dead yet is now alive. In his response to this prophecy, we see the power of Christ’s resurrection at work. Jesus’ resurrection is a promise of our own resurrection, and when we fully comprehend this, it gives us a real and tangible hope which is not swayed by anything the world might throw at us. Without resurrection, the dead have no hope – they’re dead. Gone. Death is the worst thing this world can do to us. And without Christ, there really is every reason to fear death.
But Paul doesn’t fear death, because even if the world were to kill him, his hope would be unaffected, and in fact his death would only serve to glorify God in the resurrection.
Another way to put this is to say that to fear God is to fear nothing else. When we fear nothing but God, we are truly free. Free to face things we could not face without the hope we find in Christ resurrection. Freedom to go to Jerusalem when there are threats on our life. Freedom to make career decisions which make no sense for what the world values, but make perfect sense for what God values. Freedom to choose loving God and others above succeeding in the world’s eyes. Freedom to boldly proclaim important but unpopular truths.
As Christians, we have this freedom which flows from the hope we have in Christ’s resurrection. It’s a freedom that comes from what the hymn “In Christ Alone” calls ‘No guilt in life, no fear in death’.
I work with graduate students at Harvard as part of InterVarsity’s ministry there. I have been at Church of the Cross since 2011.