It’s Acts 25:13-22 today.
Men are useless when it comes to asking for directions. If ever we get lost, my wife’s instinct is to ask someone, whereas mine is to keep looking until I find whatever I am looking for. When I sit down and consider this, I realise that it makes no sense. Why not ask? Well it’s admitting defeat and anyway, who is to know whether the person that I’m asking really knows the way. It probably all boils down to pride; men do not like to admit that they are wrong. It may have something to do with why men are less likely to become Christians.
Festus the Roman Governor was out of his depth with Paul’s case. Paul, as a Roman citizen had the right to appeal to Caesar rather than submit to the judgement of the men who had been trying to kill him but what could Festus say about the charges against Paul?
Agrippa II was the great grandson of Herod the Great (the one who tried to murder the Lord Jesus when he was a baby) and son of Agrippa I (the one who had James executed and Peter arrested in Acts 12). He was ruler of a neighbouring kingdom, so his visit to Festus was a courtesy. He had also been appointed ‘curator of the temple’ by Emperor Claudius so would be an ideal person for Festus to consult. His companion Bernice, was also his sister and there were rumours in both Rome and Judea that their relationship was incestuous. This was a seriously dysfunctional family.
On the face of it, Agrippa was the ideal solution to Festus’ problem. He and his family had a long history with the Jews and as someone familiar with Rome and well acquainted with the Emperor himself; he seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Except that Festus was asking the wrong question to the wrong person.
The question that Festus should have been asking is; how can I be right with God? It is the greatest question of all and goes to the very root of who we are and why we are here. Without having this fundamental question resolved life cannot make sense. Strangely, many people refuse to even consider the question for various reasons; what will my friends think? Will my life become miserable? or I don’t want to change. I can understand someone examining the Christian faith and then rejecting it. I have never met anyone who has but it must be possible. But most fail to even look at it. As GK Chesterton put it so well;
“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”
The person Festus should have been questioning was not Agrippa, it was Paul. Paul had stood before governors before but crucially, he could have explained to Festus the way to be saved. It’s like searching for something for ages only to find the item was right next to you. I remember seeing a documentary on the Da Vinci Code a few years ago. They went through the claims of the book and found them to be nonsense and then they went to some devotees of the Da Vinci Code and put the facts to them. At the end I remember one of them saying ‘I feel it’s true in my heart.’ There were probably many things that led the man to that point of view but sadly, he was looking for truth in the wrong place. God has revealed so much to us through his word. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.
Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory. (Speak O Lord – Keith Getty and Stuart Townend)