January 24th, 2007
When you’re lost you never know if you’re just about to crash into something. If the situation is particularly bad, you may be fearing that an enormous calamity might strike at any moment. Life’s a bit like that for many people. You might not know where you come from or where you’re going. You’re adrift in the middle of the sea, and each new wave which crashes over you might be the one which sends you down to Davy Jones’s Locker. If that’s the case, then maybe you’d like to join Paul’s ship and scramble ashore to safety with him.
The Acts of the Apostles — Chapter 27
27:1 When it was decided that we would sail to Italy, they handed Paul and some other prisoners over to a centurion named Julius, from the Emperor’s regiment. 27:2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium which was about to sail to places on the coast of Asia, and we set sail. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. 27:3 The next day we landed at Sidon. Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him permission to visit his friends so they could look after him. 27:4 From there we sailed close to Cyprus, because the winds were unfavourable. 27:5 When we had sailed across the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city in Lycia. 27:6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy, and he put us on board. 27:7 We made slow progress for a number of days and struggled to arrive opposite Cnidus. The wind did not allow us to continue, so we sailed close to Crete, opposite Salmone. 27:8 We only just managed to sail along the coast until we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.
27:9 A lot of time had been lost and the voyage was now dangerous, as it was now after the Day of Atonement. Paul warned them, 27:10 “Gentlemen, I can foresee that the voyage will be a disaster and will encounter considerable losses, not only to the cargo and the ship, but also to our lives.” 27:11 But the centurion was persuaded by the captain and the owner of the ship rather than by what Paul said. 27:12 The port was not a suitable to spend winter, the majority advised setting sail from there, to see if they could reach Phoenix, and spend the winter there. Phoenix is a port in Crete which faces south-west and north-west.
27:13 When a mild southerly breeze arose, they thought that they could reach their destination, and they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to shore. 27:14 But before long a stormy wind known as the northeasterly 27:15 caught the ship. Unable to sail into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. 27:16 As we passed downwind of a small island called Cauda, we only just managed to secure the lifeboat. 27:17 After the men had hoisted it up, they used cables to help reinforce the ship. Fearing that we would run aground on the Syrtis sand bars, they lowered the sea anchor, and so we were driven along. 27:18 We were receiving such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw things overboard. 27:19 On the third day, they threw out the ship’s tackle with their own hands. 27:20 When neither sun nor stars shone on us for many days, and the great storm continued to pursue us, all hope of being saved was abandoned.
27:21 When people had gone for a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said, “Gentlemen, you should have listened to me, and not have set sail from Crete, and suffered this disaster and loss. 27:22 Now I urge you to be encouraged, because no life will be lost amongst you; only the ship. 27:23 An angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve appeared to me last night, 27:24 saying, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul. You will stand before Caesar, and God has given you everyone who is sailing with you.’ 27:25 So be encouraged, gentlemen. I trust God that things will happen just as I have been told. 27:26 We will run aground on an island.”
27:27 When the fourteenth night arrived, as we were driven about in the central Mediterranean Sea, around midnight the sailors thought that we might be approaching land. 27:28 They took soundings and found a depth of twenty fathoms. A little while later they took soundings again and found a depth of fifteen fathoms. 27:29 Afraid that we would run aground on rocks, they lowered four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 27:30 The sailors were trying to escape from the ship, and had lowered the lifeboat into the sea, pretending that they would lower some anchors from the bow. 27:31 Paul said to the centurion and soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you can’t be saved.” 27:32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the lifeboat, and let it drift away.
27:33 As day approached, Paul asked them all to eat some food, saying, “You have been waiting and not eating for fourteen days. 27:34 So please eat some food, because you will need it to survive. None of you will lose even a hair from your heads.” 27:35 He said this, then took some bread, gave thanks to God in front of everyone, broke it, and began to eat. 27:36 Then they were all encouraged, and they also ate food. 27:37 Altogether we were two hundred and seventy-six people on the ship. 27:38 When they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea. 27:39 When day arrived, they were unable to recognise the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, and decided to try to run the ship onto it. 27:40 They cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time untying the rudder ropes. They hoisted the foresail to the wind, and we made for the beach. 27:41 But the ship ran aground on a reef. The bow was stuck fast, but the stern began to break up by the force of the waves.
27:42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, to stop them swimming out and escaping. 27:43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, stopped them and ordered that those who could swim should jump overboard first to go towards the land, 27:44 and the rest should follow, some on planks, and some on other things from the ship. So it happened that everyone escaped safely to land.