About midnight on the fourteenth night of the storm, as we were being driven across the Sea of Adria, the sailors sensed land was near. They dropped a weighted line and found that the water was 120 feet deep. But a little later they measured again and found it was only 90 feet deep. At this rate they were afraid we would soon be driven against the rocks along the shore, so they threw out four anchors from the back of the ship and prayed for daylight. Then the sailors tried to abandon the ship; they lowered the lifeboat as though they were going to put out anchors from the front of the ship. But Paul said to the commanding officer and the soldiers, “You will all die unless the sailors stay aboard.” So the soldiers cut the ropes to the lifeboat and let it drift away. Just as day was dawning, Paul urged everyone to eat. “You have been so worried that you haven’t touched food for two weeks,” he said. “Please eat something now for your own good. For not a hair of your heads will perish.” Then he took some bread, gave thanks to God before them all, and broke off a piece and ate it. Then everyone was encouraged and began to eat— all 276 of us who were on board.
(Acts of the Apostles 27:27-37NLT).
Fourteen days and nights had come and gone. The storm was still raging. Somehow the captain could sense the nearness of land. The crew checked the water depth with a rope that had a weight attached to the end. The first drop showed that the water was approximately 120 feet. The second check was about 90 feet. It was obvious that the ship was headed into a body of land. In order to try to prevent the waves and wind from driving the ship against a rocky shore, the crew dropped the back anchors and tried to abandon the ship and its passengers by attempting to lower the lifeboat as though they were letting down anchors at the front of the ship. Paul cried out to the crew that they would all die unless they remained on board (see vs. 30-31). They must have remembered the discussion that Paul had with the Roman officer before they left the harbor of Fair Havens (Acts 27:8). Paul had told him that there would be shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to their lives if they sailed (Acts 27:10). However, the officer in charge of the prisoners believed the captain and the ship owner more than Paul (Acts 27:11). In fact, most of the ships crew also wanted to leave Fair Havens in order to spend the winter in Phoenix (a better port to weather the winter - See Acts 27:12).
If we would have been the officer, we would have most likely listened to the ship captain and owner before listening to a preacher as well. Listening to a seasoned mariner makes more natural sense than listening to an imprisoned preacher. This time, however, they listened to the man of God.
At daylight, Paul told them to eat something. He prayed and gave thanks to God before them all. All 276 passengers took bread and were encouraged.
The word "us" is used in Acts 27:37. This refers to Luke who is Paul's traveling companion and stenographer (the one who is writing down the dictations of another). Luke recorded the events, as they transpired, for historical documentation.
Can you imagine being on board a ship with no telecommunications, of any kind, back to shore. There were no toilets, sinks, bathtubs, or sleeping cabins. This wasn't a Caribbean cruise. This was a large vessel made of wood that had sails and no engine. There were no life preservers. No one had a cell phone. The food was only the bare essentials. This wasn't a vacation. A portion of the passengers were prisoners being escorted by Roman guard to Rome for trial and, perhaps, execution. Consider the the utter terror that was experienced by all on board. Even the most experienced mariners were worried sick.
One man, however, had the hope of Christ alive in his heart, Paul. He trusted God with his life and I'm sure his companion Luke did as well. As believers, we must let the presence of Christ, and the hope He brings, shine through us to an unbelieving world. It may appear that we are in a situation that seems to be the end, but remember, Jesus is with us! He will take care of us. The storm can never be greater than the Master. He still delivers!!!
May God use us to demonstrate, to the world, His faithfulness and mercy.
Rev. Curtis Norris