Jesus has just told Paul he will be going to Rome, which had been one of Paul’s great desires for his ministry since he was at Ephesus, (Acts 19:21,) and perhaps even before then. Paul had “purposed in the Spirit” to go to Rome,) which implies more than just a desire of his mind and heart – but also a desire of God for his life.
Jesus, coming to Paul in the midst of events which seem to guarantee his Spirit-led desire to go to Rome is now completely impossible, has assured him otherwise. “Just as you have witnessed for Me in Jerusalem, so you must now bear witness at Rome.”
I love the way God reassures us by speaking to us of future events as if they have already happened – as if the certainty of them coming to be is beyond the shadow of a doubt. This is the confidence Jesus shared with Paul in their meeting. We can only imagine how blessed Paul must have been by Jesus coming to meet with him…
Paul probably thought himself a failure for his actions. His attempt to reach the Jews had completely failed, and the Romans had arrested him for his own protection. His life was in extreme danger should the Romans release him, and it appeared they would since they had no legal reason to hold him.
But here and now Jesus has informed Paul otherwise. His witness was not a failure in Jesus’ eyes – it was a success. (The fact the Jews desired to kill Paul for what he had shared did not make it a failure to God. We learn much about how God views ‘success’ by this.)
The very next day the storm clouds are gathering again. (How could what Jesus said be true in the light of this news?) Paul’s nephew has come to him to tell him more than 40 Jews have conspired to take neither food nor drink until they have killed Paul. (To think that many people have such a passionate desire to kill you must have been very unsettling to Paul.) Heartbreaking since his desire is they may be saved.
Would the Romans even listen to this news? Perhaps. Paul sends his nephew to Claudius Lysias to inform him of the conspiracy against his uncle.
Lysias’ reaction is kind of amazing, and it begins the fulfillment of all Jesus promised Paul would take place. Paul WOULD go to Rome, and this incitement of the Jews is how the trip began. He would not only go to Rome, but his trip would be paid for and protected by the Romans themselves.