Earlier this week our oldest daughter came home for Spring Break. She got on an airplane in Chicago and roughly four hours later hopped into our car at the San Jose airport. Had she been driving, like we’ll do in May, it would have taken her 33 hours to travel the 2,163 miles. If she’d been walking, it would’ve taken her over three weeks going 24 hours a day. Here’s the point… travel today is pretty easy and convenient.
It wasn’t like that in Paul’s day. When we read about his missionary journeys, we take for granted how easy it is to travel. Thanks to the Romans there were decent roads, but there certainly weren’t any Motel 6’s for lodging or Denny’s for pancakes along the way. There was no AAA for roadside assistance and no 911 for literal highway robbery. Biblical scholars, by studying his routes as mentioned in the Bible, have calculated that Paul travelled more than 10,000 miles – by foot! That’s the equivalent of walking from New York to Los Angeles nearly four times!
Yes, I know I like maps and geography more than most people. But to me it roots the events of the Bible in the real world of mountains and valleys, cities and streets, where people just like you and me walked and lived. Granted, it’s mundane compared to the praise song of chapter 2, “…every knee shall bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” So why would Paul include travel plans smack in the middle of his letter, especially directly after this glorious hymn?
The reason is simple. Paul brings the lofty and glorious truths of the first two chapters down to earth with two examples of traveling servants of God. On Sunday we’ll learn about Timothy and Epaphroditus – not celebrities or superstars – just regular guys with dusty feet being faithful with what God had given them. Read Phil 2:19 to 30 and check out that map in the back of your Bible! You’ll need to know your geography as we tell the tale of two servants AND two cities. (Can you guess which cities I’m talking about?)
Walking with Jesus,