Acts 27:1 ¶ When it was decided that we were to sail for Italy, they transferred Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius.
Acts 27:2 Embarking on a ship of Adramyttium that was about to set sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica.
Paul had appealed to Caesar and was now being sent to Rome. He is placed on the ship with a kind and supportive centurion, along with Aristarchus and presumably Luke who continues to write as if he were present. Luke and Aristarchus have been faithfully present with Paul in many circumstances of his ministry. Aristarchus is one of the gentlemen that the people if Ephesus tackle and take into the theater during the riot in Ephesus. He and Luke have been with Paul during the good and the bad and have now determined to travel with him to what will become the very end of Paul’s life.
The fellowship of the believers is a reflection of the relationship found within God, in the Trinity. As God’s children we are challenged to participate in the fellowship of the believers and there are times in which this becomes invaluable to our lives.
Paul’s companions had been team-mates when it came to his ministry. They had partnered together, covering numerous a wide swath of society and geography sharing the good news of the Way. Each traveling companion helped to support the ministry in their own way, whether using their vocational skills, financial resources, or ministry abilities, it all worked together for the good of the ministry. They had good and bad days in ministry, but they continued to work together.
The days of planting new churches must have been exciting and yet they suddenly find themselves in a new and different phase. Paul has become a prisoner and while they have not been arrested, they choose to be close by and continue to support him. In good circumstances or bad, these friends are staying close. They themselves are having to sacrifice their own “normal” lives to be close to and minister to and with Paul. Yet this is also a reflection of God. God’s love, kindness and patience with us are revealed in the relationship of these friends.
Paul beings the final journey to Rome and again, his friends would not have to go with him and yet you have the sense that no on head to ask, they just came along. These would be painful hours enduring a trip across the sea and all that this would bring. And just as these friends are called into the journey with Paul, there are times in life when we are either the companions, or we are Paul, and there is something amazing about having our traveling companions with us.
I think about those who sojourn the last hours of their lives — those who may have suffered terribly from illness and the journey seems unbearable. Just like Paul’s companions who were faithful, there are those of us who are called to be faithful companions of our loved ones and those with whom we have traveled through life. We are, at times, called to simply engage in the ministry of presence. Sitting, talking, waiting, going through ship-wreck, and yet all the while making the journey in the presence of God.
I am grateful for traveling companions with whom I have journeyed in life — family members, friends, and loved ones. May God help us to be the traveling companions that others need, and may we never take for granted the ones that he has provided. Cherish the traveling companions!
Lord, may I be a supportive traveling companion to others who have been on this journey, to your glory. Amen.