Holy God, there is so much injustice and corruption in the world. Help me to see it as You do.
Read Acts 24:1-27
 Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor.  When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: “We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation.  Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude.  But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.  “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect  and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.   By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.”  The other Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.  When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense.  You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship.  My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city.  And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me.  However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets,  and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.  So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.  “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings.  I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance.  But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me.  Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin-  unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.'”  Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.”  He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.  Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.  As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”  At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.  When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow would you summarize Paul’s defense here?
Those of us who live in countries where justice is dispensed impartially and all are equal before the law can be grateful. Corruption, bribery and favoritism are still present in some parts of the world, and the temptation to play the system is strong. Paul will have none of this. Again, he simply repeats the facts of the case. He believes and lives by the Old Testament. He is a true Jew, but one who has found fulfillment in Jesus. Felix knew something of the Christian faith (22), understood Judaism and was impressed with what Paul said (24). He knew Paul was innocent, yet the political situation was volatile and any wrong move would ignite the powder keg and probably mean the loss of his job. He was also corrupt. Despite his fear (25), he could not bring himself to believe and, indeed, held out for a bribe. Perhaps there was too much at stake, too much to lose. We all know people for whom the cost of following Jesus is too great. Our calling is to go on telling our story and pointing people to what Jesus has done. We may not be thanked for it, but some will respond.
Pray for some people you know who are resisting the Christian faith. Pray that God will show them the truth of Jesus.
Lord, keep me willing to share my faith whenever the opportunity is right, no matter how others respond.
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