It’s one thing to see the storm coming on the horizon and to speak of not cowering in the face of it, it is another thing to enter into it.
Paul is no superhuman individual. He is a man like any other, filled with the Holy Spirit of God. He experiences fear and anxiety as we all do. His thoughts of what may be coming in his life are probably very similar to thoughts we may be having should the Holy Spirit be both commanding you to head into the storm and informing you of what will happen when you do. (‘IF you do’ doesn’t even seem to be a consideration.)
Both Paul and the Holy Spirit are convinced of what Paul is about to do as a vessel of the Holy Spirit.
Paul’s arrival at Jerusalem must have been a huge blessing for his traveling companions. It is hard to imagine how excited they must have been to meet personally with some of the great men of the faith who were there at the founding of the Church, and who led the church at Jerusalem.
We know Jesus’ brother James was there to meet with them. How fascinating it must have been for Luke and the others to be able to personally ask James what it was like to be Jesus’ brother, what it was like to grow up with Him. To hear first-hand about the family life of our Savior, and of His great ministry works. It isn’t stated, but was Peter there as well? And John? It is conceivable they were all present in this private conference as Paul and his companions came up to Jerusalem.
They are all aware of the lightning-rod Paul has become throughout the known world. When you are an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ, as Paul has so faithfully been, you can expect lies and rumors to be told about you and your ministry. Paul was a prime example of this, and the remaining apostles were aware of the struggle present even within the church at Jerusalem about what Paul was teaching among the Gentiles.
The advice they give Paul is to dispel the rumors by representing his abiding love for Judaism in ceremony. The hope is the Jewish believers at Jerusalem would see Paul continuing in one of the rituals of the Jewish faith – and that what they had heard about Paul teaching against Judaism and Moses could be demonstrably shown to be untrue.
What must Paul have thought of this advice?
Would he be willing to involve himself in something so completely unnecessary to his own faith-walk with Christ just for the sake of others?
Likewise, how are we to walk out the freedom we have in Christ? Are we to be so conformed to what others think about us we consent to the weakness of their thinking?