#carmelprays – Acts 25:13-27
Opening Song: How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
Read Scripture: Acts 25:13-27
Paul Brought before Agrippa and Bernice
This passage sees Paul brought before the Jewish king Agrippa. The Roman governor Festus was at a loss as to how to deal with the accusations against Paul, as he rightly judged that Paul was innocent before the law. Rather, the Jews that brought charges against Paul were seeking revenge for his refusal to stop preaching that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead and was Lord. Paul had asserted his right as a Roman citizen to a trial before Caesar, but without anything to charge him with, Festus was anxious to defer to Agrippa for counsel on how to handle this strange case.
It is striking that Paul’s situation here so closely mirrored Jesus’ own trial before Pontius Pilate, another Roman governor who could find no evidence of wrongdoing on Jesus’ part. Both Festus and Pilate were struck by their consciences when faced with the prospect of sending an innocent man to his death, even if neither of them were able to recognise the truth of Jesus and Paul’s declarations. This passage is significant as it illustrates the power of the gospel, while at the same time recognising its inherent divisiveness.
What was it about the claim that Jesus Christ was the Messiah that triggered so much hate and anger, even when those preaching this message were innocent? Here in Singapore our lives and freedom are not at risk for being a Christian and proclaiming the truth of God’s word, but many other Christians are suffering right now for their beliefs. Let us not become so complacent in our comfort that we forget to pray for persecuted Christians abroad. Even worse would be to assume facing no repercussions for our faith is how life should be. Being a Christian should not be a comfortable experience, but should challenge us each day to live sacrificially for the Lord.
Nevertheless, God remains fully sovereign throughout persecution. It may seem in this passage that Paul was at the mercy of those who are blind to the truth of the gospel. Festus, a pagan governor, and Agrippa, a Jewish king widely rumoured to be in an incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice. Yet these events allowed Paul to testify about Jesus to Festus, Agrippa and Bernice, as well as bring his ministry to Rome later on. Although their hearts were ultimately still closed to the gospel, they recognised Paul’s sincerity and innocence, a great victory for the early church. Let this be a reminder that the gospel marches on, only through the power of God.
Pray in Response
Father, we praise You for Your power and might – Creator of the earth, You are almighty and sovereign. Thank You that the power of sin and evil have been conquered at the cross through Jesus Christ. Everything is subject to Your rule. Help us to remember this powerful truth in the midst of challenges or oppositions – Remind us that we can be bold, remembering that we can overcome with the power and authority that Jesus has won for us.
Father, we want to remember our Christian brothers and sisters beyond our homes – in Singapore, in the world – some may be going through dark times, depression, hardship and persecution. You know every single one of them and we want to intercede for them. May Your very presence, strength and comfort meet each one of them in their time of need. Grant them breakthroughs and testimonies of personal encounters with Your love and might. May Your glory shine all the more in the darkest of times. Let our faith arise as we turn our eyes to You again. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray, Amen.
Response Song: Overcome
By Emma Chai