by Ruth Olsen
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I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am (Acts 26:29).
During his last visit to Jerusalem, the authorities had arrested Paul of Tarsus. When the Roman commander brought him before the assembled chief priests and Sanhedrin, Paul appealed to his Pharisee heritage, declaring that he was on trial because of his hope in the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees instead believed there was no resurrection, neither angels nor spirits. The subsequent uproar became so violent that the commander had Paul rescued by force. Such was the behaviour of the religious leaders! The following night, the Lord told Paul he must testify in Rome (Acts 23:6–11).
Foiling a plot to have him killed, Paul was taken to the governor Felix at Caesarea on the coast. Over the next few years, Paul appeared before Felix, and then later before Festus, the next governor, who invited King Agrippa to provide an assessment of Paul’s case. Agrippa was well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies (Acts 26:3). Paul explained he had been a strict Pharisee, vehemently opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth until he dramatically encountered Jesus, who commissioned him to tell his own people and the Gentiles the message of forgiveness of sins and new life from God now available through Jesus (verses 4–18).
It’s because of his hope of the resurrection for any believer – that the Christ (Messiah) would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead – that Paul was calling people to repent and turn to God in words and deeds. That’s why he was seized in the temple courts. Paul now boldly confronted Agrippa, saying that the same message applied to him too!
Lord Jesus, I am not Paul, but enable me to step into your call on my life and walk with you. Amen.