Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem, 2 where the chief priests and the Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul. 3 They requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way.
Man, this is dark stuff. They’re lying, because they’re planning on lying… in wait. To kill him on the road. Dark. But maybe Lin would treat it like this; please give me a beat:
Jerusalem Guys: “Hey Mr. Festus, could you do us a favor? We’d like for Paul to visit with us and for that we need a waiver.”
Fetus: “You want me to transfer this man back into your hands? I’ve got another idea (aside) I know that you’ve got other plans. I’m going down to Caesarea. Why don’t you all come along? I’m gonna check this out myself and see if he’s done something wrong…”
4 Festus answered, “Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon. 5 Let some of your leaders come with me, and if the man has done anything wrong, they can press charges against him there.”
6 After spending eight or ten days with them, Festus went down to Caesarea. The next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. 7 When Paul came in, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him. They brought many serious charges against him, but they could not prove them.
So they packed some bags and headed down the hill to Caesarea. Then convened a court and just for sport, Paul said, “Hey, nice to see ya! By the way you know I’m innocent of all that has brought me here, I’ve done nothing wrong against this throng, the temple or our Caesar.”
8 Then Paul made his defense: “I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.”
9 Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?”
Festus: “Well, in that case, would you mind too much, if I let you go loose with them? They’d love to entertain you if you’d go back to Jerusalem.”
10 Paul answered:
“You must be out of your wine soaked mind if you think,
I’m gonna go back to Jerusalem, I’d rather make a stink
You know a Roman citizen like me deserves to have a trial
And if I’m accused again well then my friend I won’t stand in denial
That I’ve been preaching about Jesus? Yes, of course, that’s why I stand here
But if I’m to die today then that’s okay but let’s make this clear:
They asked for you to give me to them, right? That’s what they said?
“Well, hand me over to these liars and all I am is super dead.”
“I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. 11 If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!”
12 After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!”
That’s the power of Roman citizenship in the first century world.
13 A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. 14 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. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned.
16 “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. 17 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. 18 When his accusers got up to speak, they did not…
…rap very well.
…charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 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. 20 I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges. 21 But when Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”
22 Then Agrippa said to Festus,
I’d like to hear this man myself, you think that that could be arranged?
“I would like to hear this man myself.”
He replied, “Tomorrow you will hear him.”
You are my guest, of course, so king, I’ll see we get the schedule changed.
23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high-ranking military officers and the prominent men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 Festus said: “King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. 27 For I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him.”
No more rhymes, let’s have another prayer. Just a coupla’ chapters more and then we’ll have to leave it there. But before we wrap this up there’s gonna be a lot of drama, Paul’s a gonna head to Rome and get blown almost to Bahama… ok, that’s really too much.
Please pray for us here in St. Louis. The rehearsals are going great. What an amazing group of hearts and voices! I’m so proud. Of course, we have challenges galore and less than two weeks to mount the stage. But God is good and if this is to His glory, then, we’re only here to serve. Let’s pray:
Father in heaven,
Thank you for the inspiration we find in your scriptures. How incredible that after 2000 years so much is still the same. When your word is preached, there’s always opposition; but you prevail. Please help all of us who believe in the name of Jesus all over the world to be brave and humble. To do the hard things: to turn the other cheek, to go the extra distance, to give when others take. And please use all of us in this production to pour ourselves out for you so that we can, together, create a little seed that can be spread all over the world by anyone who calls on your name. And that our work will be clear, and useful for you and your purposes so that the world will know that you are our God and those who love you will remember the Lord and those who do not know you will open their hearts to having their world turned upside down.
In Jesus name,
slj june 25, 2016