Malta is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea. Part of the European union, with a population of around ½ a million, Malta is one of the smallest countries in the world with a large density of population. Acts 28 recounts the 3 months that Paul spent on the island.
As a prisoner, Paul’s missionary efforts were no less influential than when he was a free man. While being taken to Rome as a prisoner, his ship was wrecked in a storm and they ran aground on an island, which turned out to be Malta. Paul knew that with God there are no accidents and recognized the island community as a people needing the gospel of Christ.
In Acts 28, the Maltese come across as a people who were searching for God and the truth. Any community of people seeking for God, and moving in the right direction, often imbibes the nature of God. The extraordinary kindness and hospitality of the people on the island is mentioned in Acts 28:2;
The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.
They had a concept of divinity and likely from past experiences also believed in a higher form of justice that rewarded good and punished evil.
“——–they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live. But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god. (Acts 28:4-6)
The situation was ripe within this community for receiving the gospel. While there are no limitations with God, it is far easier for one seeking God to find him when the gospel is presented. All of life’s decisions either take man toward or away from God. Our individual and collective decisions fashion us and our destinies. Even communities like churches, institutions and nations need to ask if they are progressively moving toward or away from God. If it is the latter, it is ominous.
With the Maltese, it is not surprising that healing and miracles occurred in abundance. The spiritual realm needs clarity for God’s miraculous work to take place. Finding Jesus and living in close communion with him provides clarity like no other and everyone who shares the treasure of a close walk with Christ will undoubtedly find the miraculous routine in their lives.
His (Publius’) father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. (Acts 28:8,9).
Today, Malta is a predominant Christian community with the church being attributed to the work of Paul on the island. Maltese historian Giovanni Abela, states that following their conversion to Christianity at the hand of Paul, the Maltese retained their Christian religion. Publius, the chief official of the island became the most prominent Maltese saint and is said to have been made Malta’s first bishop. Abela’s writings describe Malta as a divinely ordained “bulwark of Christian, European civilization—-”, that maintained its Christian identity despite several invasions and associated influences.
- DESERTING JESUS
- SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR