The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
We last saw Paul in prison in Caesarea. He was there for approximately two years and had periodically visited with Felix, the governor. The new governor, Festus, had wisely chosen not to have Paul transported to Jerusalem. Shortly after taking office, he went to Caesarea and also called Paul’s accusers to appear.
The text of verses 6-11 indicate that Paul’s accusers made a variety of charges which could not be substantiated. This was clear to Festus. However, Luke says that Festus wanted to do a favor to the Jewish leaders who were accusing Paul. Therefore, he offered that Paul could be tried in Jerusalem, where he would likely be released.
Paul knew what would happen if he was released. The next step would be some sort of horrible “accident” which would result in Paul’s death, probably a painful death. Paul had previously stated his intention to go to Jerusalem and then hopefully to Rome. Therefore, Paul appealed to Caesar’s judgment. This was the right of a citizen. It would transport him to Rome, away from those in Judea who wanted to have him killed. Again we see Paul putting his government to work for his benefit.
Paul’s statement in verse 11 deserves our close attention. He says that he will not seek to live if he deserves to die. Yet he denies all responsibility for the charges of the Jews.
The Christian should strive to live a life which can justly avoid blame. This doesn’t mean that we will never violate laws. There are some times when laws would force a Christian to violate his conscience. In those instances, the law should be violated. But more often, the accusations lodged against Christians have nothing to do with the laws of the state. They are frequently baseless accusations, just like those made against Paul. What do we do in those situations? We live a life of righteousness, we assert the protections which we have available to us, and we live our life.
There’s a great comfort in the life of obedience to God. We know that as forgiven people we are secure in eternity. We can also know that we have done right, no matter what others may say. It gives us a great deal of confidence, not found elsewhere. May we all have that same confidence which Paul shows here.
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