Day 55: God’s Willingness to be on Trial (Acts 23:35)
Today’s Passage: Acts 23:35
One way to have fun is to watch the old movie The Quiet Manwith John Wayne. He portrays a powerful American boxer who returns to his family roots in Ireland.
He does not say much, but what he says, he means. In other words, he is not going to repeat himself. And, he has the strength of character to back it up.
What if we were to ask ourselves about God, and God’s character. Is God the ultimate Quiet Man?
I bring this up because I want to suggest that Paul’s trials reveal much about the character of God.
Imagine you were standing trial between the two largest forces of this world: Church and State. The charge against you is serious. It is treason; treason against your religion, and against your government. That is what Paul is standing accused of. The Jews very skillfully craft arguments along both lines of reasoning.
Furthermore, if you are the State, what is to be gained to exonerate Paul? It will upset the Jews in Jerusalem, who are an especially difficult group for the Romans to govern. And if there is even a 0.1% chance that Paul could cause the State trouble, why keep him around.
Between 21:27 and 26:32 Paul will have FIVE hearings…in each he will maintain that he is innocent on both these fronts of treason against Church and State. He has stood before the Jewish crowd in 21:40, and the Sanhedrin in 23, and soon Felix in 24, Festus in 25:1 and King Agrippa in 25:33.
In some of these appearances the charges lean more on the argument of treason against the Church. In others the argument would be more towards the situation with the State.
In all, God, through Paul, is on trial.
Why would God allow this? He is inviting people to come home to Him. In these trials, filled with the human struggle towards power and self-sufficiency, God is presenting yet another opportunity for us to hear the Gospel.
In all, God is willing to be put on trial because He loves us.
Fascinating to think about it that way. If God were the petty, angry (yet still all powerful) Creator many accuse Him of being, he would not tolerate being questioned by His creatures. He would simply, unapologetically, smite us.
Yet, God always allows us to “give Him a hearing”, or as the English say, “put Him in the Dock”.
The challenge is whether you will “decide” or “delay” or “deny”. We will see examples of each in the coming chapters.