Paul was on trial for preaching about Jesus in Acts 23. He had been arrested and put in prison. Normally, people in prison were put in dark recesses, chained, and, depending on their crimes, kept under strict guard. Paul’s case was different. He was a Roman citizen. And when one was a Roman citizen, they usually were not kept in prison. But Paul was unique. He hadn’t broken any Roman laws, but the Jews demanded something, so no one knew what to do with him. Out of fear for his life, he appealed to the highest court of the land, Caesar. The governors didn’t know what to do until then because of the Jews, but it was not proper to keep a Roman citizen imprisoned, but at the same time, Paul had appealed to Caesar. To Caesar, he will go. So, he remained under some level of house arrest for many years.
Carry On My Worldward Son
Paul was called by God to take the message to those who would not normally hear it. Just as the disciples were to carry it to the Jews, Paul was to carry it to the Roman world as he wrote his letters in prison to both Jew and Gentiles.
One of the more memorable messages Paul delivered was to Festus. Until now, he had been handed off, up the chain because no one really knew what to do with him. He had not broken any Roman laws, but the Romans feared the Jewish religious leaders who believed Paul was a religious rabble-rouser with all of his Jesus talk. King Agrippa was on his way to hear Paul’s case, but religious leader Festus wanted to hear Paul… again, but this time Jewish leaders were pressing extra hard, and Festus wanted to do one more thing before making his exit. He was about to give in to their suggestion of having Paul sent to Jerusalem. Paul, knowing that he would be in serious trouble there, did the only thing he could do, appeal to Caesar. This would guarantee him out of the hands of the Jews, and the assurance that God’s plan of him appearing in Rome would progress.
No Peace Yet and Never Done
For the last several years, Paul had appeared before the Roman leaders, From Felix to Festus, and then before King Agrippa, the king of Judea. By the time Paul appeared here, Agrippa was confused and even told Festus if Paul hadn’t appealed to Caesar, he could have been released. The main reason being was that Paul was a Roman citizen. But as we all know, God had bigger plans.
We all have a calling on our lives. We have different paths to get there. Sometimes we know where we are going; other times, we are clueless and take it step by step, day by day. In Paul’s case, he knew precisely where his end goal was. He just wasn’t sure of his path to get there or how bumpy it would get. He had a clue. And we do from what we read in scripture. The one that gets me every time is in Act 9:15-16 when Ananias was given the vision to heal, then Saul, after his conversion. God had told Ananias He would show him how much he would suffer for His name. Wow, what a premonition.
Paul Didn’t Cry No More
We may not have such a calling or such a road of suffering. But we all have a calling. It may be to address a King and to impact who they are and bring fear to them and their household, or it could be to change the heart of your next-door neighbor. We are never told if any of these rulers or kings are converted. We are told they are fearful. They ask to see Paul many times; one even questioned if one conversation was enough to convince one to conversion.
Paul spent most of his post-conversion life under the watchful eye of a prison guard. Even though his Roman citizen status gave him privileges, he still was a prisoner. But we benefited through the epistles he was allowed to write and send out. I still wonder how many prison guards he converted, how many other court officials he was able to reach, and how many palace officials he had the chance to influence for the gospel. We get the gospel message; they got the gospel influence.
We Have a Choice to Make
We too speak a message through our daily lives. We have an influence on those around us. We may not realize it, but we do. We may get waived aside or told to come back later, like Agrippa. Truth is, you never know what impact the words you speak will have on someone. But like Paul, we need to keep speaking the words God gives you. We are never told if any of these officials had any type of bedside confession. Would be nice if they did. But either way, we get the impact of Paul’s story of never giving up on spreading the gospel message no matter what. It is our example to keep on speaking the message we have. It is our story and our calling. Unlike Dorothy, our emerald city is not a dream. It is what we press on toward. It is what Paul strove for and what he spoke to everyone he met.
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.“ – Philippians 3:14
By Trailer screenshotLicencing information :http://www.creativeclearance.com/guidelines.html#D2 – The Wizard of Oz 1940 Cairo trailer available on the 2005 Three-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD release, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16514146