“Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem, where the chief priests and Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul. 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 answered, “Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon. Let some of your leaders come with me and press charges against the man there, if he has done anything wrong.” After spending eight or ten days with them, he went down to Caesarea, and the next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. When Paul appeared, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges against him, which they could not prove. Then Paul made his defense: “I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.” Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?” Paul answered: “I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!” After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!” (Acts 25:1-12)
W. H. Griffith on p. 467 on his outlines in Acts gives this great illustration: “An elderly Christian woman, very poor but noted for her constant activity, was laid aside by illness and her neighbors asked her how she could bear it? She answered, “When I was well, the Lord, said, “Betty, go here and Betty go there, but now He says, “Betty, lie still and cough!” She had learned the lesson of life in relation to the will of God; and something like this must have been Paul’s experience as he was cut off (and unjustly so) from his desired activities for the gospel.”
1. Have you ever wondered what it takes to get to where God wants you to go? For most Christians it is a matter of a Spirit directed mind over matter. They do not mind so hardships do not matter. Also, many people fail to reach the goals God has for them because they are unaware of His will for their life. Paul listened closely to the voice of God so he knew the direction God had for every aspect of his life. In this passage, Paul provides us with a fine example of a man who knew where God wanted him to be – Rome. The Lord used the harassment and imprisonment to direct him to a valuable ministry in Rome where he would not only witness, but write some of the most important letters of history that are now contained in the New Testament that have changed billions of lives. In order to get to Rome, Paul had to cut through a maze of Jewish plots. The Jews made many complaints about Paul, but were unable to prove any of them. Still, Paul knew it would take every ounce of his legal, political and spiritual wisdom to outwit them. The Jewish accusers were shameless as they were willing to perjure themselves to see Paul’s case shifted to their own court. If we are going to reach the goals God sets for us it will require a great deal of determination, savvy and toughness in the face of stiff opposition. Ask the Lord to help you grow in your determination savvy and moral firmness.
2. Paul knew how to cut through legal and religious opposition. Governor Festus was not that eager to condemn an innocent man to death so he gladly obliged Paul and had his case sent to Caesar in Rome. Festus also feared the wrath of Rome for making a wrong decision without seeking their counsel. Paul knew his rights as a citizen of Rome. He insisted on standing on his constitutional rights since he called for a tribunal in Rome. Consult the very best experts when you find yourself facing opposition. Trust the Lord to give you the best advocates.
3. Paul knew how to get around the indifference of people. Festus was not a man who enjoyed confrontation. He hated the provincial strife that took time away from his enjoyments. Basically, Paul knew that Festus was indifferent to the squabbles that the Jews had with some of their religious zealots. Consequently, Paul called for the powers that be to hear his case. Paul knew that the authorities work to defend the cause of the innocent or punish the guilty. When you know you are in the right utilize all your legal, constitutional and moral rights afforded to you. Ask the Lord to help you to consult experts in all necessary areas to help represent your case in the best light.
4. Paul relied on God who exposed the Jewish hypocrites trying to discredit him. The Lord worked in the heart of Governor Felix to leave word about Paul’s case with Festus. Consequently, it became clear to Governor Festus that the Jews were trying to use the Roman officials to do away with their nemesis – Paul. Roman pride became angry with the Jews who thought they could use their oppressors do to their dirty work for them. The Romans were led to keep Paul alive, allowing him to write his famous epistles in Rome. The Roman leaders used Paul’s protection to send the Jews a message of their authority, control and independence from religious affairs. Ask the Lord to intervene with His good providence on behalf of all the persecuted Christians.
5. Paul’s respectful, wise and eloquent presentation won the day. It is amazing how a personal appeal can be effective with even the most immoral of men. Festus was impressed with the way Paul presented his case using tact, diplomacy and wise legal maneuvers. Ask the Lord to help you prepare your heart, mind and spirit as you present your case before your judges.
6. Paul used honest facts to remind everyone of their responsibilities. Festus did not want to be guilty of failing to fulfill his obligations before Roman law. Ask the Lord to help you to be fully aware of everyone’s responsibilities. Be well-advised to enjoy a sense of well-being. Martin Luther said before the Pope’s council of Worms, “One truth smites down a host of lies.”
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Appearing Thursday, August 29, 2002