by Pastor Betzer | Leave a Comment
2 Tim. 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
Many years have passed since I stood on the stone floor of the dungeon in Rome’s ancient Mamertine Prison. It was believed to be here that the great Apostle Paul was incarcerated in Emperor Nero’s death row 2000 years ago. He was beheaded for the sake of Jesus and his missions work. Paul was taken by guards to the third milestone on the Ostian Way north of the city. It is believed that the execution party stopped at a place called Three Fountains where an abbey stands today in Paul’s honor. The following morning Paul paid with his very life for his walk with Christ and the ministry God entrusted to him.
Now news sources report that Paul’s actual grave may have been located beneath Rome’s second-largest basilica (the largest, of course, is St. Peter’s at the Vatican). The second largest is St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls, a truly magnificent structure. A marble sarcophagus has been found that some believe may contain Paul’s bones. The coffin dates from at least A.D. 390 although Paul died three centuries earlier. I am always somewhat leery about such proclamations of historical findings. For example, in my travels I have been shown two skulls purported to be that of the Apostle John. Having two heads would NOT be better than one, not even for this man Jesus called a “son of thunder.”
Of course, Paul himself won’t be found in that sarcophagus, even if his bones are. His spirit and soul have been with the Lord since the moment the axe descended on the back of his neck. And just this warning: if the rapture takes place before the experts secure their findings in that coffin, those bones won’t be there either. They will have risen at the trumpet sound, reunited with Paul’s body and spirit. As he would have said,”…and so shall I be in the presence of the Lord.”
Prayer: O God, always let me keep fresh in my thoughts that this world is not my home. I truly am just passing through. Let me values be eternal in their nature and scope. Let me make investments in forever this very day. Amen.