A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. Since they were spending many days there, Festus discussed Paul’s case with the king. He said: “There is a man here whom Felix left as a prisoner. When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned.
“I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over anyone before they have faced their accusers and have had an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges. When they came here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the next day and ordered the man to be brought in. When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive.
This time not so much a trial as a personal interview for Paul before Festus, the new Roman Governor, and Agrippa, the Jewish ‘puppet king’, and Bernice, his wife. In this constant tooing and froing between Paul and the Jews and the Romans, it looks as if Paul is a helpless victim. Look a bit closer, however, and we begin to see his resolve, his strength, and his resilience. It’s as if Paul has got a deep inner conviction which enables him to withstand the constant harassment. In the middle of it all we discover what it is:
‘A certain Jesus, who has died, but who Paul asserted to be alive.’
The alive Jesus is with Paul, is in Paul, and is before Paul.
So what are the pressures and struggles that you and I are facing today, and how much are we allowing the alive Jesus to be with us and in us? Is he your inner resolve, your inner strength, your inner resilience?
Dear Lord Jesus,
Just like Paul, help me to assert that you are alive.
Quieten me that I might feel your aliveness,
Give me time and space,
That I might be more aware of you, the living one.
Open my heart and mind,
That your ‘aliveness’ might flow through me.