329 - Paul Begins the Journey to Rome
NOVEMBER 25 - Nº 329 Acts 26:22 – 27:2
As Paul stood in the great meeting room filled with important people, he summarized his message. “Everything that I teach is a fulfillment of what Moses and the Prophets predicted would happen,” he explained. “They prophesied that the promised Messiah would suffer and die and be raised from the dead. They said that after his resurrection he would bring a message of light to both the Jews and the Gentiles.” At this point Festus (the new Roman governor) interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind!” he shouted. “This is foolishness! All your learning is driving you insane!” He knew that Paul was smart, but he couldn’t comprehend how any intelligent person would believe that someone could be raised from the dead. Even if resurrection was possible, how could it be predicted hundreds of years before it actually took place? “No, I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. What I am saying is true and reasonable.” He turned to King Agrippa who understood the Jewish religion and had, no doubt, heard the claims of Christianity. “You are familiar with these things,” Paul said. “Jesus’ death and resurrection could not have escaped your notice since they were not hidden from anyone.” Boldly Paul challenged him, “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets?” “I know you do!” he added. Paul knew that if Agrippa truly believed the prophecies made in the Old Testament, it might be possible to prove to him that Jesus had fulfilled them. “Whoa!” Agrippa stopped him. “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to become a Christian?” Paul’s response was heartfelt and honest, “Whether it takes a short time or a long time, I pray to God that everyone here today might become a believer just like I am—except without these chains!” King Agrippa stood up. He did not want to continue the conversation. Then Festus, Bernice, and everyone else in the room began to leave. No one there believed that Paul had done anything that deserved imprisonment or death. Agrippa turned to Festus and said, “This man could be set free if he hadn’t already appealed to Caesar. Now he must go to Rome.” Paul’s long delay in traveling to Rome was almost over. The Romans had finally gathered enough prisoners to justify the costs of booking a ship and deploying the soldiers needed to guard the prisoners. The centurion placed in charge of the prisoners was a man named Julius. He allowed Luke (who had joined Paul on his second missionary journey—see #305 - November 1) and Aristarchus (who had been with Paul since the riots in Ephesus—see #316 - November 12) to travel with him. They boarded a cargo ship and set sail along the Mediterranean coast. Since they had to stop at many small ports along the way, the journey became long and tedious.
There are always going to be people who think the Gospel message is foolish—just as Festus did. There will also be others who comprehend it but refuse to accept it—just as King Agrippa did. Our role is not to convince them. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit. Our role is to love them enough to share the truth; then leave the results up to God—just as Paul did.