“So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed” (Acts 19:20).
The Apostle Paul was in Ephesus when the incidents in this chapter took place. To confirm that he was endowed with special miraculous gifts, he had performed unusual miracles in this city and among the brethren there.
Such power as he displayed indeed impressed the Ephesians because of their fascination with magicians and exorcists. His powers were so unusual that they knew his miracles were different from those with which they were acquainted.
Because of his influence, the people gave up their former mysterious arts and were converted to the true way. As a result, the church continued to prosper “mightily.”
Even though we don’t have miraculous powers as they did, we do have the ability to do many things that will have a positive impact on the church today. Scriptures are emphatic that each of us is to use the talents with which we have been blessed so we can be an instrument in the growth of the Lord’s church.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:1).
Jesus is in the middle of some intensive teaching to His apostles when He comes forth with this statement about the ultimate expression of friendship. This statement is part of Jesus’ attempt to prepare the apostles for His departure.
When the time comes, he wants them to be strengthened to the point that they will not give up and be discouraged. His coming action will be an assurance that He is their dear friend.
The kind of friendship Jesus describes here was not just for the apostles: it was for all who would ultimately come to Him in humble obedience. He became and remains the best friend we could ever have when He gave His life on the cross for our sins, making it possible for us to go to heaven.
“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10).
As Paul provides strength and encouragement to the Romans by His comforting words here, so he does for us. The same truth exists for us as it did for them.
We were God’s enemies when we were living out in sin and away from Him. Because of His love and mercy, he provided a way for us to be free from our sins and to have a relationship with Him: it was by the death of His Son—by the shedding of His blood on the cross.
But Jesus didn’t stay dead: by the power of God, Jesus came forth from the grave, conquering His last enemy, death, and coming back to life, completing the process of atonement.
As Paul explains to the Romans in the next chapter, we take advantage of this sacrificial act of Jesus when we obey from the heart the form of doctrine that was delivered.
“He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
Of all the prophets and other writers about Jesus, Isaiah surely gave us some of the most beautiful and wonderful descriptions. Jesus left His wonderful home in glory to come to the earth to do His Father’s will and pay the supreme sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus appeared before the courts of this world, but He didn’t debate and argue—He just completed the mission His Father assigned Him. When we read the events that took place just preceding His death, we see clearly that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled.
May the love that Jesus demonstrated for us in the sacrifices mentioned in this as well as in many other passages in scripture penetrate deep enough into our hearts to stimulate us to increase our awareness of His suffering and deepen our commitment to Him and His Cause.