The heart of the matter

OPENING PRAYER

Father of Light, help me to shine light into a dark world and to stand for You in every circumstance.

 

Read: ACTS 25:13-22

[13] A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. [14] Since they were spending many days there, Festus discussed Paul’s case with the king. He said: “There is a man here whom Felix left as a prisoner. [15] When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned. [16] “I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over anyone before they have faced their accusers and have had an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges. [17]When they came here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the next day and ordered the man to be brought in. [18] When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. [19] Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. [20] I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges. [21] But when Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.” [22] Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear this man myself.” He replied, “Tomorrow you will hear him.” 

 

Reflect: FOR WHAT WAS PAUL STANDING TRIAL?

Today’s reading offers some clarification of the proceedings in yesterday’s reading. Festus explains to Agrippa that the complaints of the chief priests and elders center on “a dead man named Jesus whom Paul claimed was alive” (19), and confesses himself bemused by this (20). This is the reason behind asking Paul if he would go to Jerusalem for trial (25:9). There is enough in what Festus says to pique Agrippa’s interest and arrangements are made for him to hear Paul. It’s not surprising to read that these two important rulers are intrigued by Paul’s claim. The truth of it is, after all, at the heart of what we believe: Jesus died a very widely witnessed and disgraceful death, and yet not long after, news begins to spread that he is alive, raised from the dead. The fact in itself is amazing enough, but for Paul–and for us–it’s what that means that is important: the offer of forgiveness and new life in Christ. It’s this claim–this truth–that has intrigued the minds and hearts of millions since then.

 

APPLY

Don’t rush through your time with the Lord. Take a deep breath and listen.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord, help me take every opportunity for the Gospel that You present to me. Thank You, Lord.

 

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