Festus: Puzzled by Paul
Scripture Reading — Acts 25:1-22
“They had some points of dispute with [Paul] about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. I was at a loss how to investigate . . .” — Acts 25:19-20
Two years have passed since Paul came to the palace prison in Caesarea. Festus is now the governor instead of Felix.
Felix thought he would be doing Paul’s accusers a favor by leaving Paul in prison, but they want more. Two years is a long time to wait for a decision from the court. Two years is also a long time to hold on to anger, but Paul’s accusers still want Paul to be killed.
Festus is puzzled about how to proceed with investigating the charges and the claim that Jesus is alive. He realizes he has been asked to decide a religious question about Jewish customs and practices, so he asks Paul if he wants to stand trial at Jerusalem. Rather than return to Jerusalem, Paul, as a Roman citizen, makes an appeal for his case to be heard by the emperor, Caesar.
Leading up to this, Paul says, “If I am guilty of anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die.” He is willing to die, but he has to be heard. He continues to follow the plan of God in order to be heard in Rome.
The twists and turns of Paul’s life are clarified by this truth: he is headed to Rome to testify about Jesus before the highest court in the world. Festus may be puzzled, but Paul is certain. Jesus is alive, and others need to know this good news.
Dear God, may the praise, testimony, and witness of our lives always be centered on this truth that puzzles people still today: Jesus is alive! In his name we pray. Amen.