God, may I live my life in such a way that those who look on clearly know that I believe in the resurrection.
Read: ACTS 24:1-21
 Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor.  When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: “We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation.  Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude.  But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.  “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect  and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.   By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.”  The other Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.  When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense.  You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship.  My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city.  And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me.  However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets,  and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.  So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.  “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings.  I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance.  But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me.  Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin- unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.'”
Reflect: WHAT IS PAUL’S GOAL AS HE SPEAKS?
The two speeches in this reading are inspired by different things. The prosecuting lawyer, Tertullus, speaking on behalf of the religious leaders, emphasizes things from a political perspective. Beginning with formal, rhetorical flattery of Felix, he speaks of the peace that has been enjoyed under his rule, and contrasts it with the disturbance which Paul is accused of creating (1-9). Paul, on the other hand, quickly refutes this political accusation, and focuses on what for him is the core of things–his religious beliefs and his association with “the Nazarene sect” (5). He declares what he believes (14-16) and says that if he has committed any crime, it is to do with those beliefs (21). For Paul, the most important thing is to stand up as a Christian. If he’s disturbed people, it’s because he’s a follower of the Way (14). What he says is aimed not at clearing himself but at what he believes in. He defends himself, not for his own sake, but for the sake of the God he trusts and worships.
Are you sharing your faith actively? If not, ask God to help you boldly proclaim the news of hope in Christ.
Jesus, give me the courage to live in light of what will last forever, no matter the cost.
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