There was no mistake about it. If Paul continued to Jerusalem he was going to face certain death.
The Holy Spirit had already shown the other believers that he would face imprisonment and eventually death, so they warned him not to continue towards Jerusalem:
‘We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week. These believers prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem’ – Acts 21:4 (NLT)
But although Paul was grateful for their compassion, he refused to turn aside from his conviction that although he would face suffering, that he must continue in the direction God had called him in.
In one sense, the believers were right. The Spirit had shown them the suffering Paul would face if he chose to continue. But whereas these people had interpreted the vision as a warning not to proceed, Paul knew that God was giving him the freedom to choose either to save his life by remaining in Caesarea, or save the lives of many others as he laid down his own life in the pursuit of the call of God.
The decision however, was made even before he even arrived. He decided to let nothing – not even the threat of death – stop him from finishing the work God had assigned to him:
“My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God” – Acts 20:23-24 (NLT)
As his friends voiced their loving concern for his welfare, Paul drew the line in the sand:
‘Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” – 21:13 (ESV)
Paul’s willingness to give all for the call is as much of an example to us today as it was to his friends in Caesarea. No amount of suffering, hardship or heartbreak would prevent him from finishing the work assigned to him by Jesus.
Regardless of what it may look like for you, never let the threat of hardship, suffering or even death slow down, distract or discourage you from finishing the work assigned to you by Jesus!