“Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the Heavenly vision—but showed first unto them of Damascus and at Jerusalem and throughout all the coasts of Judea and then to the Gentiles that they should repent and turn to God and do works meet for repentance.”
If He’s truly saved us, we shouldn’t be ashamed or hesitant to let others know.
Paul was basically on trial for his life. He’d traveled to Caesarea and been warned about going back to Jerusalem by “a certain prophet named Agabus from Judea” (Acts 21:7-12). This caused those present in the household of Philip, the evangelist, to weep and beg him not to return there (vv.8-9, 12). But, Paul replied “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? For I’m ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus” (v.13).
Were these the words of some foolhardy, masochistic martyr? Or were they the courageous words of a consecrated, faithful witness?
From Caesarea to Jerusalem they did go, where they were gladly received by their fellow Christians (vv.14-17). After meeting with James and the leaders of the church, Paul shared with them what God had been moving among the Gentiles (vv.18-19). He was then informed of how the Jewish-Christians there in Jerusalem had been misinformed of Paul’s teachings and actions and wanted to hear from him directly (vv.20-22).
So, Paul humbled himself and took a Nazarite vow of purification, which required him to shave his head, which he did (vv.23-26). We should never hesitate to humble ourselves before the Lord if that will open other doors of opportunity for witnessing about the Lord Jesus.
But, this doesn’t mean we won’t have problems or opposition.
The Jews, who were present from out-of-town, immediately began stirring up the crowd by telling lies (vv.27-29). Suddenly, instead of finding a receptive audience, Paul found a riotous one (v.30). And, it was only the swift intervention by Lysias, the chief captain of the guard, that prevented the enraged mob from killing him (vv.31-32; 24:7-8).
After appearing before the Sanhedrin and stating his case, Paul was whisked away to Caesarea after Lysias learned of an assassination plot against him (22:30-23:33). And, it was there that he appeared before Felix, the governor (23:34-26). . .his successor, Procius Festus (24:27-25:22). . .and then King Herod Agrippa II (25:23-26:32).
In every situation Paul’s testimony was the same. Before the angry mob in Jerusalem, he shared of his Damascus Road experience (22:1-21). When he stood before the Sanhedrin, he spoke of the Hope of the Resurrection (23:1-8). When he testified before Felix, the governor, Porcius Festus, his successor, and King Agrippa, his testimony was still about Christ, the Risen Lord, and the need for faith in Him and repentance (24:1-26:32). In every case there was conviction, compassion, calmness and courage—and so should it be with everyone who professes that Jesus is Savior and Lord. May the Holy Spirit empower us today to be this same type of faithful witness wherever we go—for many are still lost and without hope.
September 8, 2011