Day Three Hundred Forty-Six, Acts 24-26
These passages in today's reading describe some of the most interesting moments in Paul's story, as he has the opportunity to speak to the Roman leaders about his faith in Christ. When God first called Saul, he sent Ananias to him to teach him, and the Lord told Ananias that Saul was His chosen instrument. He said Saul would preach to the Gentiles and their kings, and indeed, this was Saul's time to do just that.
However, it's also the most heartbreaking part of Paul's story, at least for me. Because these men are acquainted with Jewish customs and/or the Way of Christ. Because they come so close to the message of Christ...they are hearing it from perhaps the most zealous person ever to preach it. Because they are close enough to it to be convicted by it. "As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, 'Theat's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.'"
A couple of years later, when Felix is replaced by Festus, Paul has an opportunity to speak to both Festus and King Agrippa. As Paul is finishing his defense to these two officials, Festus interrupts him with, "You are out of your mind, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane."
Paul's response is, "I am not insane, most excellent Festus. What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do."
Agrippa's heartbreaking response, though, is, "Do you think that in sucha short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?"
I can't help but agree with Paul. I can almost hear desperation in his voice, as he says, "Short time or long--I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains."
Sadly, there is no evidence that either of these men became Christians. They did, however, at least acknowledge Paul's innocence, and they would have set him free, had he not already appealed to Caesar.