The Prince and the Prisoner
Thursday, August 1, 2019
Then Agrippa said to Festus, ‘I also would like to hear the man myself.’ ‘Tomorrow,’ he said, ‘you shall hear him.’ So on the next day when Agrippa had come together with Bernice amid great pomp, and had entered the auditorium accompanied by the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in.
Does the name Owen Young mean anything to you? How about James Byrnes? Or Pierre Laval? Or Hugh Johnson? Believe it or not, these men all made Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” at one point in their lives. Yet we don’t even recognize their names.
As we approach the final chapters of the book of Acts, it’s important for us to stop and consider where Paul has been for the last two years. Paul has been imprisoned in the household of Felix, who, as we learned in our last study, keeps putting off a decision regarding Paul. Two years go by and Paul is still awaiting a verdict.
Felix is finally replaced by another Roman governor named Festus, but Festus can’t make a decision either. Here, in Acts 25, King Agrippa wants to see for himself what all the fuss is about regarding this converted Jewish attorney named Paul.
King Agrippa is a powerful man during this time. He was appointed by Rome as the guardian of the Jewish people, which gave him power to appoint the high priest of Israel as well as administrate the temple treasury. He is also part of the Herodian line of kings who were notorious for hating Christianity. His father, Herod Agrippa the First, executed James and imprisoned Peter. His great uncle, Herod Antipas, executed John the Baptist and tried Jesus, desiring to kill Him (Luke 3; Luke 13:31). His great grandfather, Herod the Great, massacred hundreds of children in Bethlehem in an effort to kill the newborn King of the Jews.
So don’t miss the significance of this scene. King Agrippa comes in with all his pomp and circumstance, while Paul comes in with chains. Agrippa comes in with man-ordained power given to him by his bloodline, while Paul comes in with a Spirit-empowered message given to him by God. Agrippa looks every bit a prince, while Paul looks every bit a prisoner. But the opposite is true.
If you walk with Christ and remain faithful to His message you may never sit on a throne or grace the cover of Time magazine. It’s doubtful you’ll win a Nobel peace prize or receive special commendation from Congress. You may, like Paul, be tossed around from one CEO to another, from one law firm to another, from one post to another, by those who hold the greatest sway in society.
But take heart today as you live beneath the ever-shifting shadows of those who hold the reins of authority. Your legacy will last long after the plaudits and magazines and medals have rusted away. Your name is not written in a fleeting periodical. It is written eternally in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Luke 10:20).
As Jesus said, “In this world you have trouble; but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
That is a promise we can rest in now . . . and forevermore.
Take comfort in that promise today. Rest in it. Prayerfully consider what it means to be a child of the King, and let it affect the way you work and dream and live today. Most of all, thank God for giving you that eternal inheritance, won for you by the precious blood of Christ.
Read all of Acts 25 and prayerfully consider what God was doing in Paul’s life during this difficult, confusing time.