Acts 25:6-12 (ESV)
After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”
Keeping the Jews happy is a tricky job for a Roman governor. Felix was removed from office for his failures in that area. Festus is sensitive to this and wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” Paul realizes that Festus doesn’t know about the danger in that, and there’s no way to tell him without giving away the game.
Paul is between a rock and a hard place. He can argue that he’s innocent but how can he turn that into an argument that he shouldn’t be tried in Jerusalem? Paul tries by saying, “I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. … But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them.” Then it hits him; a Roman citizen on trial has the right to appeal to Caesar. He’s needs to get to Rome anyway, so he blurts out, “I appeal to Caesar.”
It works. Festus says, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”
Unfortunately, Caesar will eventually mean Nero.
Paul’s journey to Rome is a one-way trip. It ends his ministry.
Or does it? In Rome, Paul ministers to a different audience – you and me. There he writes much of the New Testament. He’s in jail – and will end up martyred – but his ministry continues at a ferocious pace. Paul’s journey to Rome may look like a disaster but in the grand scheme of things it’s a success.
Does life seem to get in the way of your ministry? Do you make plans to do something for the Lord only to watch those plans go up in smoke? Don’t let this get you down. God doesn’t redirect the plans of just anyone. You have to be useful to get that kind of attention. The trick is to figure out the redirection.
Think about the times you’ve been stopped from doing something for Christ. In retrospect, what do you think God wanted done differently? What would have been the right questions to think about back then?
The more you meditate on what God’s trying to tell you, the more you’ll learn.
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