The Fugitive

Do you remember the name Dr. Richard Kimball? He was better known as the Fugitive. The hit TV show chronicled the life of a physician wrongly accused of murdering his wife and sentenced to death. During episode intros, the actor was shown staring out the window of the train carrying him to death row. The narrator rumbled, “Richard Kimble ponders his fate as he looks at the world for the last time, and sees only darkness. But in that darkness, fate moves its huge hand.” At that moment the train derails freeing Kimball … freeing him from death row but imprisoning him in a life of running infamy. Every episode is basically about one thing … escape. Kimball is hunter and hunted … following the trail of his wife’s real killer (the one-armed man) while being relentlessly dogged by Police Lieutenant Philip Gerard. Richard Kimball escapes in all but the final episode. Finally vindicated, Kimball walks away from the court building and the narrator says … “the day the running stopped.”

That was fiction … you’ve been reading real history in Acts. The story of a man that was hunted, hounded and wrongly accused. He was both pursuer and pursued. Running after one magnificent goal, heedless of the cost … but also running from his enemies … escaping at times by only the narrowest of margins. Our subject? The Apostle Paul. But the real hero of the story is not the fugitive or the huge hand of fate moving in the midst of Paul’s darkness … the Hero is Paul’s kind, sovereign and mighty God.

Paul’s story was not five seasons … his story spanned almost three decades. Reading from Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 to just before his prison voyage to Rome (Acts 26), I counted 27 separate attacks against Paul. He didn’t have just one determined antagonist like Dr. Kimball. Paul’s list of opponents is much longer … it included: unbelieving Jews, slave owners, the Sanhedrin, Gentile crowds, philosophers, zealots, city officials, a sorcerer, a trade union, two Roman governors, a Jewish puppet king and many who called themselves Christians.  

The attacks occurred in every city he visited, stretching from Judea through Syria, Asia, Macedonia and as far as Greece. Paul faced verbal abuse, defamation of character, orchestrated mob actions, sneering and jeering, beatings, litigation, a restraining order, stoning, imprisonments without cause and multiple unsuccessful plots against his life. Of the 27 incidents I mentioned, at least ten where intended by his enemies to result in Paul’s death. Without embellishment the life of Paul has plenty of material for several nail-biting seasons.

But Paul summed up his troubled life by saying, “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

That statement is impossible to fathom … until you hear this one, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him …” Philippians 3:8–9

Father forgive my whining and give me a heart for Christ like Paul!