A Command Performance

June 25, 2021

Acts 25.13-22           

13 A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. 14 Since they were spending many days there, Festus discussed Paul’s case with the king. He said: “There is a man here whom Felix left as a prisoner. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned.

16 “I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over anyone before they have faced their accusers and have had an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges. 17 When they came here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the next day and ordered the man to be brought in. 18 When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. 20 I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges. 21 But when Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”

22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear this man myself.”

He replied, “Tomorrow you will hear him.”

We might wonder why Agrippa wants to hear Paul.  Is it curiosity about what Paul is saying and doing?  Does Agrippa want to be able to understand the gospel?  Is he just trying to get an understanding of the people in his region?  Or just some entertainment value?  It could even be that he, like Felix, wants to be part of the bribe that may be offered.  We just hear from Agrippa that he wants to hear Paul speak.

I have people in my circles who are searching for something.  Some are even able to voice that they are searching.  They don’t want accusations about unbelief or hardened hearts.  They don’t want to be preached at.  They would accept conversation that allows both to be heard and for questions to be asked, and even attempting at some answers.  As long as people are searching we hold out hope that they will hear the Spirit calling to them with hope and life.

What was Agrippa’s motive?  Don’t know and it doesn’t really matter.  The Spirit was at work bringing the message of the gospel into the room.  A room with Felix, Agrippa and Bernice.  But a room that also will hold many others.  It doesn’t matter that Felix states his goal of finding a charge to send along with Paul on his way to Rome.  The Spirit is at work bringing the gospel into a room filled with officials and military personnel.  People who were posted here for a time and then to many other places.

We may read it with the hope of reaching Felix and Agrippa, as the leaders in the region.  But often in life it is about reaching the more common and numerous regular people who interact with the numerous and common people around them.  Do we rejoice at seeing leaders or celebrities use position to share faith?  Certainly.  There seems to be a regular flow of young Christians walking across the stage of shows like American Idol, finding a place to offer testimony.

But rejoice even more when our young people find ways to live faith and speak of faith as they take part in studies through High School and University.  Finding ways to live and speak faith as they enter the work force and build families.  Rejoice when seniors can live and speak faith as they live in retirement and move through facilities with others, including the staff, speaking to them of a life lived in faith.  We rejoice as grace is spoken in the common, ordinary parts of life.

SongYou Know My Name

Prayer

Lord, in these times when we are about to lose hope and our efforts seem futile, grant that we may perceive in our hearts and minds the image of your resurrection, which remains our only source of courage and strength, so that we may continue to face challenges and struggle against hardship and oppression born of injustice.  Amen.

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