READ: Exodus 7-9, Psalm 20, Matthew 20, Acts 20
As people of the Spirit, we love new initiatives. We love when the Spirit breathes new life. We love when the Spirit gives fresh insight. We love when the Spirit begins something refreshingly different and unique. We are comfortable and desirous of Spirit-led life, quick to embrace the power, guidance, deliverance, and liberty the Spirit gives – but we are slow that the Spirit also leads us to death.
Spirit-Led Restrictions (Acts 20:22). Paul announced that he was headed to Jerusalem, “bound in the Spirit.” It was not security police, oppressive government, terrorist kidnappers, or poor leadership that was making Paul’s world small. The life-giving Spirit of God provided the limitations. God prevented Paul from any other option; the Spirit’s leading was so clear and so restricted that Paul felt bound to obey it.
Spirit-Led Uncertainty (Acts 20:22). Paul obeyed this narrow guidance of the Spirit “not knowing what awaits.” The same Spirit who reveals and illumines also keeps us in the dark. The Spirit of God is under no obligation to explain all He has in mind. Our partnership with the Holy Spirit is not egalitarian. We forget often that the Spirit is part of the Godhead and treat Him more like a buddy than deity. We must surrender our demand to know what and why and submit to the restrictions of the Spirit without insisting on details.
Spirit-Led Suffering (Acts 20:23). The one thing Paul did know was that the Holy Spirit testified that in every city chains and tribulations awaited him. Similar to Jesus who knew that He was compelled to go to the city of Jerusalem where betrayal, condemnation, mocking, scourging, and crucifixion awaited (Matt. 20:17-19), Paul had one assurance: The Spirit was unerringly leading him to face the unknown with the caveat that suffering was guaranteed.
Remarkably, Paul proclaims that none of these things (restrictions, uncertainty, and suffering) move him (Acts 20:24). The deaths the Spirit led him to rather produce joy in finishing his race and testifying to the gospel. All who would follow Jesus must come to terms with the Spirit leading them to death. The death of our own will which leads to the deliverance of others. We do not live to be served, but to serve and to give our life for the ransom of others (Matt. 20:28). If we will do this joyfully, we will indeed be baptized with the baptism of Jesus.