Acts 9:23-25 - 23 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but Saul [Paul] learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
You would think he’d have some sort of buyer’s remorse. After all, this was his first ministry outing around 33/34 A.D. Original travel plans to the city were booked when he still practicing Judaism and with the intent to stunt the spread of Christianity. Then Jesus stopped him on the way and permanently altered those plans. He called Paul to faith as well as to ministry. The new apostle however didn’t change his travel arrangements. After traveling to Damascus, he preached the name Jesus instead of persecuting it. The Lord blessed the message and the word touched many lives.
But it angered many others. Beside themselves at Paul’s seemingly traitorous turn, some decided it was time to end Paul’s ministry 30 years prematurely. The main gate, the way in or out for travelers was watched. Paul was trapped. And in Paul’s later words recounting this event, he couldn’t even appeal to the local rulers for help:
2 Cor. 11:32-33 - 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.
As the old saying goes, when the Lord closes a door, he often opens a window. Through a window, a small opening in the city walls, Paul was able to escape and incredibly advance the kingdom of God.
But there’s so much more to this story. Who were the people boldly willing to carry out this plan? How far was the drop? What time of night did they do this? Did they have to learn any guard rotations and routines? How many people were involved in the plan? How many people did it take to lower the basket? What were their names? Were they also brand new Christians? Were they still living when these letters were written and to make their names public would have endangered their lives unnecessarily? Or is it that they were people who were happy to advance the gospel without wanting any praise? Was their ever an investigation into how Paul escaped?
The one answer we do know is that these Christians shined like stars to do what they did. The power of the gospel altered their plans of sleep or self preservation to protect and preserve the life of their pastor. The self sacrifice they displayed meant the word of Christ would continue to go forward, even now to us. How they must have been an encouragement to Paul not to have buyer’s remorse or give in to these early opponents of the gospel. They lowered him in a basket. Their witness in Christ encouraged Paul not to become a basket case.
And so does yours. Whether the Lord gives us a great wide open door for ministry, or just a window, may we continue to shine like stars. Let’s work together, encouraging one another, furthering the kingdom. Our names may not be known 2000 years from now. By grace, may the shining light of our actions be clear. And may they have contributed to the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom in the world.