Yesterday, in reading Acts 25, we left off with Festus working to help set up a meeting between Paul and Caesar, per Paul’s request. Now in this chapter we get a detailed account of what Paul actually has to say in that meeting, which includes information about his past, his education, his profession as a Pharisee, his zeal against the Christian religion, his miraculous conversion, and his commission, and now deep passion, to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. And that deep passion and unwavering commitment to his mission and call doesn’t wane in the least, even now while standing trial. If we look closely at the defense Paul is giving all throughout Acts 26 we begin to see that Paul is not really defending himself but rather the faith, and the message which he has been condemned for preaching.
Now, I think it’s important to point out that Paul was a scholar. Unlike many whom Jesus called, he was not a fisherman but rather a well educated man. However, even with the depth of knowledge we know he possessed, his key defense lies in his own personal testimony. He isn’t found here quoting from the scrolls of the old testament, though he would have known them well. Instead he is boldly declaring the life giving and life changing power of Jesus that he had personally experienced on the road to Damascus. And what a powerful and instantaneous conversion it was!
But Pauls steadfast focus on the call upon his life doesn’t stop with him simply sharing his own story but Paul is on mission - not just to clear his name but to make Jesus known to his accusers. After giving such a powerful and detailed account of Christs work in his own life, Paul asks the king in verse 27, “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets?” I know that you believe.” To which the king replies in verse 28 “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And I love what Pauls says in verse 29, “Whether short or long, I pray to God that no only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am - except for these chains.”
What a powerful moment! Paul - a man who once stood so resolutely AGAINST Christ and the message begin preached - here he stands now standing even more firmly on the freedom, home, and restoration found in Christ. Paul never forgot the life he lived as Saul - a memory that could have easily crippled him and his ministry. If there was anyone unworthy of standing up and defending the Christian faith it was the man who made it his life mission to rid the earth of as many of them as possible. However, Paul had experienced in an instant what he had been unsuccessfully searching for for a life time - a love that reaches as far as the east is from the west, a peace that passes all understanding, and a grace to continually compounds - grace on top of grace on top of grace and he was determined to spend the rest of his life shouting it from the rooftops. I have no doubt one of his driving thoughts was - God if you can do it for ME than I KNOW you can do it for them!
Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, it’s likely none of us share the same testimony as Paul. It would be quite low odds for any of us to have spent our pre Jesus lives murdering Christians. However, it is the same God and the same supernatural power that rescued Saul (now Paul) on that road to Damascus who also saved you and I from our own destructive ways.
And like Paul, our testimony holds the power to bring life change into the lives of those around us. Not because of anything we did but fully because of what HE has done and continues to do both in and through us. But we must first, like Paul, make the choice to boldly, and consistently, share it with others - through words, actions, and deeds - so that those in our sphere of influence, “whether short or long” as verse 29 stated, will one day come to know the same life changing savior you now simply cannot imagine living life without Him.
So today, take a moment to pray for confidence and boldness to share the story that Christ continues to write in you because, “Lord, if you can do it for messy old me then I KNOW you can do it for them too!”