“Some of the followers in Rome heard about us and came to meet us at the Market of Appius and at the Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and was encouraged.” (Acts 28:15).
This is a delightful moment captured forever in the words of Luke, author of The Acts. What makes this moment so special was that, for Paul, it came at the end a long and arduous struggle against one thing after another.
Here’s a recap of what Paul and his fellow travelers had encountered.
First, a mob of religious fanatics rushed upon Paul intending to stone him to death in Jerusalem. Being both a Jew and a Roman citizen, Paul appealed to a Roman jailer who secured him in the local prison. From there he was sent first to Festus, who then passed him up the food chain to Agrippa; who then put him on a ship headed for Rome to appear before Caesar.
The ship, despite Paul’s warnings to the Captain, got caught in a horrific storm at sea; a storm of such force that all hope of their being saved was lost. Breaking apart upon a reef, they were able to make it to land, where Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake, but miraculously survived.
Finally they reached the shores of Italy and headed towards Rome — the one City Paul had tried to visit so many times before, but was, in his words, “hindered by Satan” from doing so. And now he is on his way — as a prisoner in chains.
That’s when this happy scene unfolds.
Believers in Rome had somehow heard that Paul was enroute, and traveled almost fifty miles out of the City to not only meet him on the way at a place called The Three Taverns, but to escort him into the City as if he were a visiting dignitary.
When Paul saw them, he thanked God and was encouraged. One translation says, “his spirits rose.”
My friend, if the road you travel is beset with one blow after the other, and yet you are pressing on in faithfulness to the Lord — take heart. The Three Taverns is yet ahead, and a band of brothers will greet you there, lifting your spirits and filling your heart with praise!