Day 58: What will you DO with Jesus? (Acts 25:23–26:32)
Today’s Passage: Acts 25:23 – 26:32
At the end of the day, after all the talking and reading and staring at the ceiling—what we each do with Jesus is the single most important thing we can ever do in our lives PERIOD.
There are some 8 billion human souls today on this planet. In the marrow of my bones, I believe the sentence I wrote above is true.
God, if you allow Him, will put you in all sorts of places to share His love, His very Son, with one person, or two people, or maybe more. Today, the text provides a vivid picture of how far God will go to reach the lost.
To properly “see” this picture as I read, I need to “set the stage”. This is Paul’s longest recorded defense.
It is easy for me to get caught up in all the back-and-forth between the authorities and Paul. I have read Paul’s testimony before. My tendency is to gloss over this text and miss the depth and drama of the moment.
Trust me, there is drama in this moment. The King, and all with him, are decked out in their finest—with Paul standing before him in a prisoner’s tunic and chains. It is in this drama where I see again just how far God will go to reach the lost.
John Scott, and his commentary on Acts from the Bible Speaks Today series always does a great job at drawing me into the scene. Here is how he describes it.
“Herod Agrippa II was the son of Herod Agrippa I of Acts 12 and the great grandson of Herod the Great. Bernice was his sister, and rumors were rife that their relationship was incestuous. Because he had been only seventeen years old when his father died, he was considered too young to assume the kingdom of Judea, which therefore reverted to rule by procurator (that would be Felix and then Fetus). Instead, he was given a tiny and insignificant northern kingdom within what is now Lebanon, and this was later augmented by territory in Galilee.
He was nevertheless influential in Jewry because the Emperor Claudius had committed to him both the care of the temple and the appointment of the high priest. He and Bernice came to Caesarea to pay their respects to the new procurator, and during their stay Festus raised Paul’s case, which he had inherited from Felix.”
Festus, through my lens, continues to seek to justify himself. He summarizes for Agrippa what he had done in verse 15 through 22, and then in verse 25 we read, “But I found that he had done nothing deserving death…”
Really? I don’t remember that. In fact, to send him back to Jerusalem was in essence to put him on trial for charges that if he was found guilty, would require death.
What I remember is Fetus trying to “punt”.
Regardless of my view, Agrippa is intrigued by Festus’ summary of the case, and said that he would like to hear Paul himself. Returning to Scott…
“Paul had aroused his curiosity, much as Jesus had aroused the curiosity of his great-uncle, Herod Antipas.”
“It was a dramatic moment when the holy and humble apostle of Jesus Christ stood before this representative of the worldly, ambitious, morally corrupt family of the Herods, who for generation after generation had set themselves in opposition to truth and righteousness. ‘Their founder, Herod the Great’, wrote R. B. Rackham, ‘had tried to destroy the infant Jesus. His son Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, beheaded John the Baptist, and won from the Lord the title of “fox”. His grandson Agrippa I slew James the son of Zebedee with the sword.”
It is before this linage of tyrants that Paul now stands.
What does God do? He sends Paul to invite King Herod Agrippa II, and all, to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. He invites those, who we might judge as a family that actively opposed The Way, to turn and repent.
God is stunning.
The Kings response is to deflect, to defer, and to delay. Oh that his, and everyone’s heart that day would have turned to the Lord.
I am wondering, thinking back over my life, and musing about any instances God has placed me into that had high drama, with the opportunity to witness to Jesus. There have been one or two. Nothing as dramatic as what we read today. And memories are tricky things. I worry about my accuracy. But I do seem to remember, and I think it is accurate, that I was not terribly afraid. I truly wanted the people I was speaking to, to meet Jesus.
And to be clear, it wasn’t me. It was God working through me, a fumbling sinner.
How about you? Any moments where God has worked through you?
I titled this reflection “What will you do with Jesus?” Will you accept Him as Lord? And if you do, will you share Him with others?