Today's Bible Reading: Acts 26
Selected Biblical Text
"Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles." And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind." But Paul said, "I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe." And Agrippa said to Paul, "In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?" (Acts 26:19-28 ESV)
Reflecting and Thinking
Paul begins his defense before Agrippa by telling once again the story of his encounter with Jesus and his conversion (the third account of Paul's conversion in the book of Acts). This account includes his commission to the Gentiles "to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, and so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." The selected biblical text for today immediately follows Paul's account of his conversion.
Festus gave his account of the events in the previous chapter; today's text provides an overview of Paul's version of the events. Festus thinks Paul is out of his mind, but Paul's appeal is not to Festus but to Agrippa. Paul did not fumble this opportunity to share the gospel with kings and those in highest authority. Agrippa says Paul could have been released had he not appealed to Caesar, but God's purpose is being fulfilled.
Have you ever had the opportunity to share the gospel with someone who would be considered important or of high position in the eyes of the world? What might we conclude from Paul's failure to persuade Agrippa? Do we ever fail to act because we fear failure? What could encourage us to try even though we do not know how it will turn out?
Father God, we try to understand your word but we often miss subtle points. Paul has spent a lot of time in prison in Caesarea--probably almost three years. Did he become tired? Discouraged? Doubtful? Was he patient as he waited so long? Was he disappointed that he could not be more evangelistic? Help us learn how to live out our faith regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, in Jesus' name, Amen.