With Great Pomp

Pomp_and_Circumstance_(geograph_2949787)

Paul is on his way to Rome. He had been accused, threatened, and had several attempts made on his life. Currently he is under arrest and having to appear, numerous times, on trial. Now comes the most recent judge-King Aggripa, and his wife Bernice (lovely name). Festus catches Agrippa up on the situation that was left to him by Felix-with some minor exaggerations to make himself look good (hey-we’ve all done it). Apparently Paul’s situation fascinates Aggripa because he wants to hear directly from Paul.

Back up-Paul was under arrest because the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem had arrested him in the temple. Ironically, Paul had gone to Jerusalem trying not to be a contrarian, but they had their agenda. The Jews wanted to kill Paul but the Roman tribune stepped in. He than assembled the Chief Priests, Pharisees and Sadducees and put Paul on trial before them. Paul knows he is going to be sentenced to death but, being the very educated man he was and recognizing his audience, saw an opportunity-and took it. He stated that he was on trial for the thing that the two religious camps disagreed over the most-resurrection. This could not have been more true. Paul was preaching the resurrection of Christ. Things got violent and the Romans stepped in and took Paul away. Paul than pulls out his Roman citizen I.D. card (not very easy to get) and says he has a right to trial before Caesar. So Paul is on his way to Rome. God has told Him this was His will.

Fast Forward-Paul has now had 2 additional trials before Felix and Festus, and here comes Agrippa. Here is how Acts 25 describes the situation:

“Then Agrippa said to Festus, ‘I would like to hear the man for myself.”…So the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city.” (Acts 25:22-23a)

You never know what God has for you. Paul was being persecuted for preaching the truth and sharing the gospel. Yet he was not, seemingly, being blessed for his faithfulness. Instead he was under arrest and appearing before trial after trial. But look at what God is doing with this situation-not in reaction to men’s actions mind you, but providentially. Paul is getting to preach the gospel to more and different people than had he not been arrested and on his way to Rome. These are not more peasants either, but men of great influence. And this is exactly what God had said “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” (Acts 23:11b)

Just as his ancestral father Joseph, Paul was wrongly being persecuted in accordance with God’s plan to spread His Word and save His people.

Christian, do not be discouraged when you feel persecuted. When the world, with great pomp, parades you out as a religious numbskull, or a backwater-moron, use the situation to proclaim the gospel faithfully.

As my former Pastor said “Don’t waste your suffering”

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