Not All-Knowing

Acts 25:23-27

23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high-ranking military officers and the prominent men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 Festus said: “King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. 27 For I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him.”

Wedding

During wedding occasions, the most anticipated part of the processional is when the bride walks down the aisle. The congregation stands and watches as the bride marches in. At that moment, the bride must have been flooded with euphoria, a great feeling of elation or delight being the center of attention. Similar kind of attention is very addictive to people who crave for popularity, power, or glory. The Bible has recorded some kind of grandeur entrance of King Agrippa and his sister Bernice. 23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high-ranking military officers and the prominent men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in.

The entrance of King Agrippa and Bernice, high-ranking military officers and prominent men of the city was well organized. As readers of that occasion, can you imagine and appreciate the effort and preparation to have such entrance? Others might not welcome the exaggerated reception but kings would reward those who participated.

When we welcome Christ the King into our hearts with gladness, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit. When the King of kings comes again, everyone including those who are against Him will bow down in reverence fear of Christ. In the meantime, as we wait for His second advent, let’s continue to learn from God’s words.

1. No Charge

24 Festus said: “King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome.

Festus may have seen nothing wrong with what Paul has done but those who accused him saw otherwise. This experience of Paul is practically experienced by everyone who sincerely follows the Lord. The Lord declared that His disciples will be persecuted, and it surely happens without exemption. Persecution is a disciple’s mark.

As long as believers live a life pleasing to God, there will always be persecution. Some if not most are discouraged when persecuted. Keep remembering that persecutions are opportunities to practice more of our faith in our Lord, the ultimate healer.

God’s grace is sufficient. Paul preached about it because he experienced it. The more persecution we experienced, the more God’s grace becomes apparent. The more we complain of the persecution we experience, the more we focus our attention on ourselves. The more we focus on ourselves the more we feel discouraged or feel the difficulty of Christian life, right? So what are we supposed to do in such difficult situations?

Paul was accused but he kept on preaching about good news. He did not worry about the after effect of his obedience. He did not concern himself about the persecution of the opposition. He was not anxious about the decisions of the governor or even King Agrippa. Paul knew for sure that the chief priests were favored by King Agrippa because Agrippa was the one who appointed them. Where did Paul find his strength to keep on?

In Philippians 4:10-14, 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.

Paul experienced similar problems and difficulties that we encounter. The book of Acts described the persecutions he had. Paul had financial shortage. Ministry partners like Barnabas and John Mark left him. He also dealt with rejection from some of the Corinthian believers when they preferred Apollos or Peter over him.

Paul learned how to rejoice during peaceful or difficult times. Christ provided timely support and encouragement through the Philippians. The Lord surely gave Festus a decision in favor of the appeal of Paul to go to Caesar. Festus did not even know any reason why the Emperor should accommodate Paul.

2. No Reason

26 But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. 27 For I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him.”

Leaders are also ordinary men. The greatness of leaders, kings or governors depends upon how they handle great challenging situations. Greatness is related to decision making. Great decisions are exhibits of greatness.

Festus may not be a great governor in the eyes of the Jewish people because he did not favor them. For believers in Christ, it may show one of the best decisions Festus has made. Festus did not know the technical terms why he would send Paul to Caesar. He presented Paul to Agrippa and before high-ranking officials to gather more information and to weigh their opinion. It was an excellent move from not all-knowing governor.

Listening to others’ opinion is a brilliant move to gain or gather more or even better ideas. The more ideas a person choose from, the better the decision could be.

Festus being the governor of Judea did not ignore the case of Paul, why? He could have easily favored the Jewish community. He could choose to ignore Paul yet his decision favored Paul, why? Is this another tangible indication of God’s grace at work?

Have you personally heard a message straight from God? What is the vision or plan that God wanted you to be? Do you know the will of God for you? What decision did you make so that the plan or vision of God for you would materialize?

In Genesis 15:1-4, 1 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” 2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me, since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”

When God said to Abram, “I am your great reward,” he was thinking about great wealth. He did not have a child to inherit such great wealth. He desired to have a child if God would reward him. God understood his heart’s desire and promised him to have a son. Abram might have told his wife about the vision from God. Sarai thought that she can be of help to accomplish the will of God for Abraham. Many want to help their God.

In Genesis 16:1-4, 1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.

At first, Sarai’s idea appeared to be bright one because it was a tolerable and acceptable practice in their generation. Other people were doing it, so it could be acceptable to God. The result of her idea has backfired, and put her to a situation she cannot appreciate. Abram agreed with his wife because he might have thought that Sarai’s idea could possibly be God’s way. Abram’s decision to agree with his wife’s suggestion added more problems. But why did God allow Abram and Sarai to decide on such a thing?

Some decisions are seemingly good at that time of execution. But if they are God’s will and ways, problems and frustrations would develop. In the midst of problems though, God’s grace is always available. God provides encouragement when we need it.

When Abraham and Sarah have their very own son Isaac, they surely have the greatest joy. It is very wise to listen to many advice but be sure to hear God’s word clearly. Obedience to God invites difficult situations like Paul, but in difficult situations, we can avail more of God’s grace and peace. Let’s keep asking God more of His grace.

What is God’s plan for you? Don’t wait until you are retired. You cannot be too sure if you will live that long. Seek the will of God, and obey His instruction, and you will experience the greatest joy in your life as a believer.

***LTSII/2015***

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