Paul Speaks to
13A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to visit Festus. 14They had been there for several days, when Festus told the king about the charges against Paul. He said:
Felix left a man here in jail, 15and when I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the Jewish leaders came and asked me to find him guilty. 16I told them it isn't the Roman custom to hand a man over to people who are bringing charges against him. He must first have the chance to meet them face to face and to defend himself against their charges.
17So when they came here with me, I wasted no time. On the very next day I took my place on the judge's bench and ordered him to be brought in. 18But when the men stood up to make their charges against him, they did not accuse him of any of the crimes that I thought they would. 19Instead, they argued with him about some of their beliefs and about a dead man named Jesus, who Paul said was alive.
20Since I did not know how to find out the truth about all this, I asked Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and be put on trial there. 21But Paul asked to be kept in jail until the Emperor could decide his case. So I ordered him to be kept here until I could send him to the Emperor.
22Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would also like to hear what this man has to say.”
Festus answered, “You can hear him tomorrow.”
Herod Agrippa and his sister Bernice arrive in order to pay their respects to the new Roman governor. Here was a man who understood the ways of the Jews which Festus could not begin to understand during these early days of his governance. He explains to Agrippa that Paul talked about a dead man named Jesus who he claimed was alive. The charges had nothing to do with breaking the laws of Rome. Since Paul had asked to be sent to Rome for trial Festus had no choice but to send him. However he knew that he could not send a letter with some vague charge about religion. Perhaps Agrippa could help him out of this mess.
Paul would be very much aware that Herod and his family were thoroughly corrupt. Herod the Great, the founder of the family, had tried to kill the infant Jesus. As the wise men passed through the land following the star they had told Herod of the auspicious birth of a child born to kingship. Herod urges them to return with the location of the child but being warned by God they return another way. This Herod is so evil he orders the death of every child under the age of two to make sure this child Jesus does not escape. His son, Antipas, then tetrarch of Galilee beheaded John the Baptist while his grandson killed the apostle James with a sword.
Herod however is just as bewildered as everyone else about how to deal with these religious charges and asks Paul if he is willing to go to Jerusalem to answer to them.
By this time Paul should have posted a large notice saying once and for all he will not go to Jerusalem. “Now hear this one and all. I will not go to Jerusalem to-day, to-morrow or any day in the future. I ask to be sent to Rome which is my right as a Roman citizen!” Herod when reporting to Festus says he would like to hear Paul speak. Festus says that wish will be fulfilled.
We know Lord that it often seems a waste of time to present the gospel to people who have been corrupted by sin and have lost their moral compass. Help us to remember that we are responsible to spread the Word. The harvest Lord is in your hands.