Life after the storm suddenly seems so serene and calm by comparison…
The sea voyage described in Chapter 27 had been so violent and so life-threatening. All hope of anyone being saved had been lost.
It has been imagined by authors over the centuries what it must be like in the moment when all on-board a ship realize there is no hope and they are all going to die. We have the account of Gordon Lightfoot in his famous song, ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.’ The captain of the ship gathered the crew once it was certain all was lost and declared to them with this very great sense of hopelessness, “Fellas, it’s been good to know ya!”
Translation in the heart of every man: Prepare to die.
Now imagine being on the other side of that. Can you sense the relief? The wonder? The amazement that – as in this case – not only did NOT all die – but NO ONE did.
With that fullness of relief, Chapter 28 of the Book of Acts can almost seem anti-climactic. All the air has been let out of the room. Phew!
But on close examination the 28th chapter of Acts is a wonder. We find here what God had been arranging behind the scenes, and we also see God continuing to work. The miracles performed on Malta are as great as any contained in the Bible and are a continuation of the miraculous salvation of all who had been on-board ship, even as the ship was destroyed.
And the Book of Acts doesn’t end does it? Surprisingly, Paul’s life and the continuing story of the early-days’ Church are not resolved. The ending is a sort-of fade out, with no clear determination about Paul’s case before Nero, or what transpired in the remaining years of Paul’s life, save for the barest mention of his first interactions with the Jews at Rome and his seeming lack of success of convincing them of Jesus being their long-promised Messiah. The book closes with another mention of the willful blindness of the Jews who heard from Paul, and his view of their blindness. Their faith has been hijacked. Ship-wrecked. But is all lost? The rescue mission continues, doesn’t it?