“Agrippa spoke directly to Paul: ‘Go ahead — tell us about yourself.’

“Paul took the stand and told his story: ‘I can’t think of anyone, King Agrippa, before whom I’d rather be answering all these Jewish accusations than you, knowing how well you are acquainted with Jewish ways and all our family quarrels.

“‘From the time of my youth, my life has been lived among my own people in Jerusalem. Practically every Jew in town who watched me grow up — and if they were willing to stick their necks out they would tell you in person — knows that I Iived as a strict Pharisee, the most demanding branch of our religion. It’s because I believed it and took it seriously, committed myself heart and soul to what God promised my ancestors — the identical hope, mind you, that that the twelve tribes have lived for night and day all these centuries — it’s because I held on to this tested and tried hope that I’m being called on the carpet by the Jews. They should be the one’s standing trial here, not me! For the life of me I can’t see why it’s a criminal offense to believe that God raises the dead.'” Acts 26:1-8 (The Message).

Paul was smart! Here was a golden opportunity to tell his story to the king himself and he grabbed it with both hands. Many years before, it had been prophesied that he would testify before kings. Did he recall those words at this moment when he stood in the dock before Agrippa? Did he recognise that this was not so much about defending himself against Jewish religious bigotry as it was about bearing witness to Jesus before an auspicious audience?

How attentively Agrippa, and Festus, must have listened to Paul’s story, hoping for a loophole or a slip of the tongue that they could latch onto for a legitimate case against him as the reason for sending him to Rome.

This moment had eternal significance for all who were present in the Great Hall that day. Before Paul stood before them, many of them were ignorant of the truth about Jesus, but once his story had been told, everyone, including the governor and the king, was faced with a choice. This is the real issue regarding the “good news”. Truth always demands a response. Every time Paul opened his mouth to inform his hearers about Jesus, they stood in the dock because even if they ignored the truth, it was a decision and made them guilty and culpable.

Jesus put it this way: “‘As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.'” John 12:47-48 (NIV).

Every lie about Jesus spoken by men in their rejection of Him will collapse like a house of cards. God has spoken! He has appointed Jesus to be the sovereign and supreme ruler over all His creation. Through His obedience, Jesus earned the right to be exalted to the highest place and given a name that is above every name, “Lord”; — the name Satan so desperately covets and deceives people into believing that it belongs to him!

All the exalted claims that humans may make in the name of religion will be exposed at the judgment seat of Christ, and only the truth will remain, for truth alone can never be destroyed because it the very essence of the living God. All the lofty claims in the name of a god, whatever that god or gods be called, will vanish like vapour in the brilliant light and searing heat of Jesus, the King of kings.

Little did these men with such lofty opinions of themselves know that this was the moment of their trial. In Paul’s testimony he was echoing the words of Moses: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV).

Luella Campbell

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