Note from Jesus
Dear Precious One,
Each of My disciples is precious to Me. I hate for any of them to have to go through unfair trials and difficulties. Unfortunately, the world in which My disciples live is filled with all sorts of twisted people. These people abuse politics and laws to suit themselves. They try to extort money from the innocent. They make decisions to curry favor rather than to deliver justice.
I remind you that My trial was an awful miscarriage of justice. My execution was government-sponsored murder. The whole situation was politically motivated and not based on truth.
My few believers in influential Jewish circles feared reprisal for their faith, so they remained silent in the face of all the abuses of the law and justice. Notice this fear of rejection among the Jews during the last week before My crucifixion:
Despite all the signs He [Jesus the Anointed] performed, they [the people in the crowd] still did not believe in Him. … Yet many leaders secretly believed in Him but would not declare their faith because the Pharisees continued their threats to expel all His followers from the synagogue; here’s why: they loved to please men more than they desired to glorify God.
(John 12:37; John 12:42-43)
Without anyone to insist on a fair trial, the Jewish leaders tried me illegally. They seized Me at night having paid Judas to betray Me. The trial was held at night away from the people. The testimony used against Me was untrue and provided by false witnesses. When the Sanhedrin pronounced Me guilty, they sent Me to Pilate (Matthew 26:47-67; Matthew 27:1-2).
Pilate recognized almost immediately that I was innocent, yet tried to gain political leverage by having Me go before Herod. I was pronounced innocent by Pilate, but he appeased the crowd by releasing a hardened criminal named Barabbas rather than releasing Me. Pilate then had Me scourged trying to calm the crowd. When this appeasement didn’t work, Pilate handed Me over to be crucified (Matthew 27:11-26).
So yes, precious disciple, I experienced injustice — a total miscarriage of justice. When under trial, I do want you to remain a person of holy character. I also want you to look for an opportunity to share My good news with influential people even when being treated unjustly. However, I don’t want you to suffer unjustly if you can legally prevent this unfairness from happening.
One of the many reasons that Paul was effective as My apostle to the Gentiles was that he was a Roman citizen. This citizenship gave Paul specific rights that protected him many times during his life of ministry. I want you to notice in the verses below that Paul exercised his legal rights as a Roman citizen to protect himself and his ministry. Another example was Paul using his citizenship to obtain an acknowledgement that he and his associates had been treated unlawfully in Philippi (Acts 16:35-40).
Verses to Live
Today’s verses share some of the intrigue, political maneuvering, and treachery that led Paul to use his legal rights to protect himself and his ministry. Please know that I want you to do the same. Be a person of holy character and faith. Trust in the Holy Spirit to give you words to say but use every legal right to protect yourself and your ministry. I will be at work to redeem your situation (Romans 8:28).
Felix was quite knowledgeable about the Way. He adjourned the preliminary hearing.
When Lysias the commandant comes to Caesarea, I will decide your case.
He then ordered the officer to keep Paul in custody, but to permit him some freedom and to allow any of his friends to take care of his needs.
A few days later, Felix sent for Paul and gave him an opportunity to speak about faith in the Anointed One. Felix was accompanied by his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. As Paul spoke of justice, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became fearful.
That’s enough for now. When I have time, I will send for you again.
They had a number of conversations of this sort; but Felix actually was hoping that, by having frequent contact with him, Paul might offer him a bribe. As a favor to the Jews, he did nothing to resolve the case and left Paul in prison for two years. Then Felix completed his assignment as governor, and Porcius Festus succeeded him.
Three days after arriving in the province, Festus traveled south from Caesarea to Jerusalem. The chief priests and Jewish leaders still had a plan to kill Paul and gave a report to Festus about their unresolved grievances against Paul. They suggested that as a favor to them, Festus should move Paul to Jerusalem. Of course, this was part of the plan to set an ambush for Paul and kill him en route. Festus instead offered to reopen the case. He would be going back to Caesarea soon.
So let your leaders accompany me, and bring your accusations against the man.
Eight or ten days later, Festus returned to Caesarea, and the next day he took his seat in court. He ordered Paul to be brought before him. The Jewish opponents from Jerusalem immediately surrounded Paul and from all directions bombarded him with all sorts of serious charges, none of which could be proven.
Paul (quietly and simply):
In no way have I committed any offense against Jewish law, against the Jewish temple and all it represents, or against the emperor.
Here Festus saw an opportunity to do just the favor Paul’s Jewish opponents had requested.
Would you like to have your trial in Jerusalem? I’d be willing to try your case there.
If I had committed a capital offense, I would accept my punishment. But I’m sure it’s clear to you that I have done no wrong to the Jews. Since their charges against me are completely empty, it would be wrong to turn me over to them. No, I do not wish to go to Jerusalem. I am appealing to the court of the emperor in Rome.
Festus conferred privately with his council and returned with this decision:
You have appealed to the emperor, so to the emperor you will go.
(Acts 24:22-27; Acts 25:1-12)
Response in Prayer
O Father in heaven, You are the God of all nations. You hold the power of leaders in Your hands. So please bring an end to the violence, duplicity, injustice, and treachery of those who are leaders. Bring Your justice to our world. Please, O God, have Your kingdom come and have Your will be done in our world today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.