Eighteen months ago, OCA and alumni brought this musical to life for two exciting nights. We never released the photos that were taken during the two performances and wanted to share them with you now.
For those who always sneak a peek at the last page of a book, you’ll like this — we’re starting at the end.
Paul didn’t know Jesus after the flesh. He never had a physical encounter with Jesus, never shook his hand, said howdy, or could we have bread together. He never walked with him physically on the earth, but he goes on to become this bigger-than-life apostle. The depths of his relationship with God came from his strong personal revelation.
We can track the apostle Paul on his way to Jerusalem knowing prison and hardships were facing him. The people pleaded with him not to go. When he would not be dissuaded, people gave up. Paul goes to Jerusalem, but before he arrives, his reputation gets there first. He was a polarizing figure — people either loved him or wanted to tear him apart limb by limb. Remember, just because you have opposition in the public town square does not mean you’ve done something wrong. That kind of opposition was part of Paul’s journey of faith.
We strive to be the type of people, like Paul, who will champion and persuade ourselves and others to go with the Lord and do His will while knowing what is ahead.
Yes, there’s a cost.
Yes, there are prisons and hardships . . . and even death.
I think one of our favorite and most exciting parts of Acts, a City Rising was the night that Paul escaped. His life was being threatened, and at nightfall, his followers helped him sneak out of town, fleeing to the wall as they lowered him down over the city wall in a large basket. I think we all felt goosebumps every single time we did that scene.
Paul’s Nephew Uncovers a Plot
Remember when you were little and it was fun to listen to adult conversations? Maybe your parents had people over and you’d creep down the hall so quietly and stealth like, and get to the end of the hall, in earshot . . . just to listen to them talk. Their conversations were so much more interesting and exciting than kid ones.
Here’s what was going on:
The Pharisees took Paul’s side for a bit, but things start to get out of control and the Romans remove Paul from the room and take him back to prison.
Paul is saved.
That night, Paul hears God tell him that things are gonna be fine. He’s going on a trip to Rome soon to talk about Jesus.
Meanwhile, about forty of the Jews on the council agree that they’re going to kill Paul – and they won’t eat or drink until they achieve their goal. They arrange to have him brought back to the council so they can unleash their secret plan to attack and murder him. It’s getting really sinister up in here.
Somehow, Paul’s nephew (Hi Matthew) hears all about this and manages to find the Roman tribune in charge of Paul’s case, Claudius Lysias, and warns him about the plot against Paul’s life.
Claudius Lysias has his soldiers take Paul to Caesarea to appear in front of the governor there (Hi Aaron Kinsey). He also sends a nice long letter explaining the whole crazy situation. How polite.
The governor meets with Paul and tells him that he’ll arrange a hearing when the Jews from Jerusalem arrive to accuse him of something. (Let’s not hold our breath.)
Paul’s young nephew overheard adults talking. He heard the plot to kill Paul. God will always have someone. He will always be looking to oversee and ensure that we are protected and that His will is done.
All Things Work Together For Good
Paul had been shipwrecked, stoned, and betrayed. He had been in perils among brothers and among those who hated him. When you look at his life, it is very hard for anybody alive today to say: my life has had a more difficult trajectory than Paul’s. And yet, after all the things he suffered, he was able to write that all things work together for good.
In other words . . .
Everything that God allowed into my life was for a spiritual reason—whether I understood it or not. God was doing something in me. He was bringing me to a specific place. He was teaching me truths that I might not have learned otherwise.
Quite often, we spend our prayers trying to get out of “all things.” Isn’t that what our prayer life is all about so many times? “God, get me out of this, deliver me from that, and I will serve you.” Many times our focus is about getting out of the very things that God is allowing to mold us and help us overcome. So instead of praying, “God, get me out,” maybe we should try to pray, “Lord, what are you teaching me? What is it that you are producing in my life that could not come any other way?”
These things are not easy.
When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong
Brother Nobles just spoke about this scripture this past weekend, and how when we are strong in ourselves, we are weak in God. When we are weak in ourselves, we are strong in God. When things are going great in our lives . . . we leave God in the dust.
(Side Note from the weekend: Read about King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26 – he becomes so powerful that he gets over confident and becomes his own priest, working out of God’s order.)
Paul believed that, even though he was confined to a jail cell at the end of his life, all things worked together for good, even if all he could do was write letters at that time. As Paul penned his epistle to the Philippians, he reminisced about the church being together. He had no idea that he was writing to hundreds of millions of people over thousands of years—that his letters to his friends, brethren, and churches were going to be guiding us today in how we work in the latter rain church.
Paul is an encouragement to us to not just pray to get out of where we are right now. Pray to learn the lesson that needs to be learned. Pray that when you do come out on the other side of the valley of the shadow of death, you will be able to say,
I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. I have learned that nothing can separate me from the love of God, which is mine in Christ Jesus. I have learned that God has a purpose beyond my understanding. I have learned to trust Him that somehow, some good is going to come out of it—so much more than I can ever think or imagine!
Paul was already dead in himself—long before they took his life.
Paul was a fearless, relentless, tireless servant of God. He challenges us to our very core. What was worth everything to Paul . . . was worth laying down his life for. That’s why he was fearless, relentless, and tireless in pursuing the call of God on his life. He valued it that high.