Thursday, August 17, 2006

Festus (Acts 25)

Well, we’re almost through the book of Acts. It’s been a long journey, but very rewarding. We get an up close and personal example of the Holy Spirit’s work in the world around us through the Lord’s disciples. Some of the benefits in reading Acts straight through have been:
- A chance to see God at work in ordinary people.
- A chance to see what those ordinary people can accomplish with the Holy Spirit living in them.
- A chance to see many lives transformed by God through the Holy Spirit.
- A chance to see what a community of believers working together in unity to spread the Gospel looks like.
Those are just a few generic observations. Reading the text and connecting people and places has been rewarding for me. I’ve come away with a new respect for Paul and his missionary journeys. What an amazing man!

Moving back to our story in Acts 25 we find Paul back in familiar territory and ready to stand before a new Roman governor by the name of Festus. He doesn’t seem to be as corrupt as the previous one (Felix). Again, some Jews think up a plot to kill Paul on his way to Jerusalem. Luke writes in verse 3,

They urgently requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way.

Festus wisely summons Paul’s accusers to Caesarea and the plot to kill Paul is foiled again (ha!). Next we find Paul standing trial and speaking boldly in the presence of his enemies. A turning point occurs in this trial when Paul appeals to stand before Caesar. This was something all Roman citizens had a right to do. Who was the Caesar that Paul would be appealing to? None other than the fun-loving compassionate man named Nero (yeah right!). So, this pretty much seals the deal on Paul’s trip to Rome. We shouldn’t be surprised because back in Acts 23:11 Jesus says to Paul,

“Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem,
so you must also testify in Rome.”

Paul is going to Rome to spread the Gospel. It may be under different circumstances (as a prisoner) then you or I would like to go, but he’s going. Before Paul leaves however, someone wants to see and hear him. Who is it? King Agrippa II and his wife/sister? Bernice. He was great-grandson to Herod the Great (Remember him? He tried killing Jesus as a baby). His father (Herod Agrippa I), if you forgot, was the one struck down by God in Acts 12:23 for not giving praise to God. So, Paul, in chains and prison garb, gets an impressive audience to speak before. What kind of message will he bring? What type of miraculous things will God work out? We’ll find out next week as we explore Acts 26.

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