After traveling for 27 hours straight, I thought of the Apostle Paul’s troubles in travel (see 2 Corinthians 11.23-28). I reminded myself that international travel is a bit of a marathon but even the stress of long lines at passport control and the weariness of crossing time zones is nothing compared to shipwrecks and robbers!
Unlike Paul and his companions, we had a beautiful hotel with views of the Aegean Sea and comfortable beds at the end of our journey.
Our trip to Ephesus was mind boggling. Ephesus is one of the best preserved archeological sites in Europe. We walked down the same broad streets that Paul and companions walked down, saw terrace houses, one of which was probably the site of the “school” or “hall” of Tyrannus (See Acts 19 for more details), the agora or public meeting place where the riot started, and the theater where the Ephesians gathered during the riot over Paul’s teaching of “the Way.” The houses were full of intricate mosaic floors and beautiful frescoed walls which have been uncovered and partially restored. Probably the library is the most impressive with its towering facade. Interesting to think of Paul perhaps disputing with students of philosophy during the three years (during both his second and third missionary journey) he was in Ephesus.
I am still pondering the immense challenges that the Christian message faced in this first century culture. People in a city like Ephesus had it all — culture, entertainment, decent plumbing(!), beauty, religion, philosophy. Why would they be at all receptive to Paul’s message that the true God of the universe had come in the person of a Jew from an obscure part of the empire? What would open their minds to the heart of the Gospel — that sin was real and that this man, Jesus, had died on the Roman instrument of torture for them? What an unlikely message to bring to a city and culture whose artifacts are still amazingly stunning and impressive 2,000 years later!
What courage Paul and his companions had to continue preaching this message even in the face of riots and persecutions! Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth: “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Co. 1.22-25).
On a more personal note, we’ve had lots of adventures, both the kind you treasure and the kind you can laugh about later. Our Air BnB lost power for most of 2 days and we shuttled back and forth between two hotels. I had hoped to post more entries and get them up sooner. But such are the serendipities of traveling!