CRAZY OR CONVINCED?
"That was too much for Festus. He interrupted with a shout: 'Paul, you’re crazy! You've read too many books, spent too much time staring off into space! Get a grip on yourself; get back in the real world!'
"But Paul stood his ground. ‘With all respect, Festus, Your Honour, I'm not crazy. I'm both accurate and sane in what I'm saying. The King knows what I'm talking about. I'm sure that nothing of what I said sounds crazy to him. He's known all about it for a long time. You must realise that this wasn'tdone behind the scenes. You believe the prophets, don't you, King Agrippa? Don't answer that -- I know you believe.'" Acts 26:24-27 (The Message).
Why did Festus react so violently to Paul's story? Did Paul sound like a crazy man? To a Roman who was steeped in the bizarre and ridiculous beliefs of his idolatrous religion, for a human being to be executed and then to rise from the dead, and then actually to appear and speak to the man who stood before them who was willing to lay down his life for what he was saying, was beyond reason. Did Paul really expect them to believe his story?
What if it were true? What were the implications for him? Brush Paul off as out of his mind and he could escape the obligations this testimony laid on him. Festus' reaction is often the reaction of people who do not want God to intrude into their lives with His requirements. They have no interest in living in harmony with their Creator. Get rid of His witnesses and then I don't have to worry about what He says. I can make Him go away if I silence the voice that speaks of Him.
Unfortunately for Festus, Paul was not a lone voice in bearing witness to the Messiah who came from God, laid down His life and then rose from the dead. For many centuries before it happened the Hebrew prophets spoke of the event as a fait accompli -- and it was because, from God's point of view, it was finished from before the foundation of the world.
Paul was not speaking of something brand new. He had stepped in time into the plan of God which was conceived and effected before time began. Festus could shout and scream and call him names but that did not alter the truth that Paul was declaring before that august assembly.
The Jesus whom the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman soldiers thought that they had safely disposed of was the Jesus who had stood before Paul in His risen glory to rescue him from his self-destruction and send him out as one of those he had so vehemently despised to carry His message to the ends of the earth. Paul had no option but to explain why he was on this apparently suicidal mission. It was not his idea. He had been chosen and commissioned to do it and he had accepted the package.
Paul appealed to King Agrippa. He was fully conversant with all the facts. He was an authority on Jewish affairs. Perhaps this was Agrippa's moment to put it all together and to realise that Paul was speaking the truth.
In the environment of Governor Festus, blinded by his pagan outlook on life, Agrippa and Bernice, arrogant and pompous regents of an out-of-the-way and obscure province in the Roman Empire and all the glitterati in Caesarea, Paul preached the gospel of the risen Christ who outshines and outlives all. These so-called intellectuals refused to believe the truth but they gladly swallowed any old bumph dished up to them in the guise of religion as long as it left them alone to continue in their inflated opinions of themselves and in their perverted way of life.
That was their choice. What's yours?
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