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Acts Reading Plan | Week 17 | Day 2
Allow some silence for your soul to catch up with your body.
Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Choose one of these five characteristics that the Psalmist uses to describe God and praise God for that in prayer.
Bible Reading: Acts 25:13-27
Read these verses three times slowly.
A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. 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. When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned.
“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. 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. When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 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. 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. 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.”
Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear this man myself.”
He replied, “Tomorrow you will hear him.”
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. 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. 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. 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. For I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him.”
Reflection & Questions
We continue to see the Roman court system working through these verses today. There’s orderliness and at minimum some semblance of wanting to carry out justice.
What is incredible though, is how God’s chosen people, the Jews, are acting so unjustly. We read that the “chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned.” They wanted swift condemnation. Amazingly, the (godless) Romans have to correct the (God-fearing) Jews on the way justice should be carried out. Festus “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.“ It is certain that the Jews are feeling that their position as God’s people, as those who know the law, have the right to pass swift judgment.
But before we condemn them (which would be ironic), we must consider if we do the same thing. Do we write people off without talking to them first? Do we gossip about problems, rather than handle them in a godly way (check out Matthew 18:15-17)? Do we try to find out facts before passing judgment? Do we show the same grace that Jesus showed to us? The Jews did none of those, even as followers of God – we certainly can fall into the same trap.
- Do you tend to pass quick judgment or condemnation on people? Why or why not?
- Are you gossiping or participating in gossip? If so, what do you need to do about it?
Talk to God in response to today’s reading.
You might use this song today to worship Jesus today:
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