What does it say?
With Paul in Roman custody in Caesarea, the Jews send Tertulus to accuse him before the governor Felix (Acts 24). Paul gives his defense to Felix, who is waiting for a bribe to release Paul that never comes. Not wanting to antagonize the Jews, Felix keeps Paul under house arrest for two years until he is replaced by Festus.
On a courtesy visit to Jerusalem, the Jewish leaders immediately bring Paul’s case before him (Acts 25). Certain Jewish leaders go to Caesarea to again level charges against Paul. When Festus asks if Paul will go to Jerusalem to defend himself, Paul enjoins his right as a Roman citizen to appeal directly to Caesar. Visiting Caesarea, King Agrippa, son of King Herod of Acts 12, asks to hear from Paul, and Paul again tells his story (Acts 26). Paul’s story is compelling, but Agrippa interrupts him at the point of Christ’s resurrection. Though not willing to accept the Gospel, Agrippa realizes that Paul is not guilty of any criminal offence, but an appeal to Caesar is irreversible. Paul will go to Rome.
What does it mean?
Paul’s appeal to Caesar reveals that he trusts the pagan Roman government more than his own Jewish leaders. Sadly, it is often the case that fanaticized religious people are less honest and more cruel than those that profess no faith or false faith. This is also true in Jesus’ life. His chief enemies are the religious leaders of his own Jewish people. This is not an excuse to abandon assembling with other believers, but rather reminds that we should always be aware of safe people and toxic people, and find our community in those that are safe.
Paul again tells of his encounter with the resurrected Christ. Each time he makes adjustments to account for the audience. Adding or omitting details, adjusting the emphasis of the story, Paul meets people where they are. We should be able to make similar adjustments. Our story obviously does not change, only the way that we relate it to the context of our listeners in each situation. Telling our story well does not mean everyone will agree, as Agrippa illustrates by refusing to believe in Christ’s resurrection.
How will I respond?
Today I will pray and ask God to give me another opportunity this week to share my story with someone who desperately needs to experience God’s love. I will consciously be sensitive to how to adjust my story according to the opportunity.