After [Festus] stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.”
But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.”
Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.””
I am moved at how beautifully civil Paul is in all of this. He has been imprisoned for 2 years! And since Felix left and Festus is in charge, he’s still in prison and nobody even knows why!
If I were stuck in so much milktoast bureaucracy as this, I’d be super frustrated and try anything I could to get out of it. That stuff drives me nuts!
But look at the Apostle Paul. He knows that he is being SENT to Rome to appear before Caesar because Jesus called him to do that. He has no resistance to dying or any other kind of suffering, as long as he can preach the Gospel of Christ in Rome.
All through Acts we’ve seen places where God was setting people up for revival. He sent Peter to Simon the tanner’s house so he could then go meet with Cornelius. He sent Apollos to Ephesus to get everyone ready for Paul to show up and preach about the Holy Spirit. God even used Simon from Africa who carried the cross for Jesus on Good Friday to get the church started in Antioch.
We could discuss another day about whether or not the phenomenon of Constantine was good or bad for the church, but nevertheless, Paul preaching in Rome is critical to Church history as we know it. If Paul would have bailed and settled for another argument in Jerusalem and possible freedom, Christianity would be very different in 2022.
“Not my will but Yours be done” was a pattern started by Jesus. Every one of His disciples that has repeated it since has played a part in changing the world. Every one of them has helped to welcome God’s Kingdom.
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