JohnSWilson3 Blog

“You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!”
January 30, 2010, 3:25 pm
Filed under: E Acts

The chapters of 25 and 26 of the book of Acts is really an incredible part of this narrative of the early church, specifically of Paul. It would have to be the climax of the the entire letter that Luke is writing. Afterward Paul is sent to Rome and is more of a travel diary of how that occurs and not has climactic as Paul’s trial in these two chapters.

For two years, while in the prison of Caesarea Paul’s companions have been taking “care of his needs.” Other than Luke, who perhaps went with another companion in pursuit of writing of the life in Jesus in Galilee and Judea, the brothers that came with Paul have probably stayed in Caesarea. Because of Paul’s desire for him and his companions to be an expression of Jesus, I am sure they have spent much time together in prayer, sharing meals together, and encouraging each other with the words of God and with Christ Himself among them. Living letters of Christ! Perhaps they are praying for Luke and the work of Jesus in the collecting of the information that will one day be his gospel. Because of Luke’s letter having details related to Mary and her family perhaps Luke has spent some time with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her family. What an amazing journey Luke must have had reliving the earthly life of Jesus!

“When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison. 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.” I find it amazing that still after two years these Jewish leaders still have this vengeful spirit! Festus later mentioned to King Agrippa that the Jewish leaders also “asked that he be condemned.” Festus told the chief priests and elders “that it is not the Roman custom to hand over any man before he has faced his accusers and has had an opportunity to defend himself against their charges.” This sounded rational and reasonable on Festus’s part. The Jews “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.’ ” I find it striking how similar Paul’s demeanor is to Jesus. I can only expect that when a person has so been captivated and surrendered to Jesus, the life of Jesus exudes and is expressed through him. May we have Jesus so alive in us that truly all anyone ever sees of us is the life of Jesus!

At this point Festus gives in to his political scheming like Felix before him and “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 must be beside himself. He knows what this is about, egotism, hatred, and jealousy has mocked this trial, like the other trials before this one. Paul, being a Roman citizen, understands his rights as a citizen, and in the back of his mind you have to think that Paul, knowing that Jesus told him “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify in Rome” it has been revealed to him that his journey to Rome will be to not just to visit the Roman Christians, as mentioned in his letter to them, but to see the very emperor of Rome, Caesar himself. So Paul answers “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!” Since Festus scheme didn’t work out he has to make a decision. He could either forgo Paul’s request and release him, meaning he would be at the mercy of the Jewish chief priests and elders, or send him to Rome and be rid of the nuisance. Obviously Fetus chooses the latter. “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!”

The Jewish chief priests and elders go back to Jerusalem. They have gotten rid of Paul, but not how they wanted. God usurped their plans of vengeance. In just a few years, the Roman army will come into Jerusalem and destroy Jerusalem for all of their intrigues and for the leaders selfishness and failures to recognize what Jesus said in Luke: “This is what I told you while I was with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” All of Scripture testifies, are types and shadows of the One to come, the Lord Jesus Christ. “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” How sad, that those who should have known the Scriptures would have not known the One who was the fulfillment of the Scriptures. As John wrote: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” No wonder that when Jesus, upon his triumphal entry into Jerusalem some twenty years or so earlier “as he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Jesus is now in His people! When He is so alive in us and we, in humility, encourage one another in love, may God help us to see that it is Jesus touching us, “coming to” us!

How we need, like Paul, to have a “heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites…that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Let us not be so entrenched in our procedures and rules, that we fail to “live in accordance with the Spirit (and) have (our) minds set on what the Spirit desires…the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” May Christ’s life so live in us that our daily gatherings with one another are overflowing with the life of Jesus, that that life would so be expressed that all who see and hear us will but “confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Of course, like Paul, we will be rejected, mocked, and hated by many, but others will see the Life and receive Him. May Jesus be glorified in is church!

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