Well, we are coming into the home stretch of our study. We are just beginning the 26th chapter of 28, and we have witnessed some amazing things. Jesus had been raised from the dead and hung around his disciples for several days, when he was lifted up into the air and vanished into eternity (wherever that is). Then we saw the birth of His Church when the Holy Spirit came blowing in with what sounded like a “mighty wind,” what appeared to be “tongues of fire” on the heads of the disciples and some amazing language that they spoke—yet was understand by all the people who were visiting from different territories and countries.
I was present for the birth of every one of our children and it was absolutely amazing! I received a tiny glimpse of the excitement and joy our Heavenly Father felt at the birth of His new family. I must have thrilled Him to see all of His promises come to life!
We then witnessed the growth spurts and maturing of His Church. Sure it wasn’t without glitches and trouble, but He (and His Family) overcame them each time. There was the victorious death of Stephen and others; the hatred of God’s chosen; the disbursement and persecution of His Church.
But none of those things hindered it’s growth. Then came the transformation of the most prominent persecutor, Saul of Tarsus, when he became the most prominent messenger and promoter of the Gospel Message. Becaue of his ministry to gentiles he changed his Hebrew name of Saul, to the Greek rendering, Paul.
Paul had suffered tremendously because of his choice to follow the Messiah. He was stoned; beat; arrested; abused and hated. Now he has sat in prison for a couple years and standing in front of a very austere group of people.
This reminded me of something. You see, I was raised in a “blue-collar” family. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but back in high school it had its embarrassing points. I remember dating the daughter of a local attorney. Her name was Suzanne L . . . oh, it doesn’t matter what her name was. Anyway, she asked me to take her to a Christmas party held at a local country club. Now, I was always a simple guy at heart, and still 15, so I wasn’t driving yet. My father drove me up to their home, which was quite impressive, and he jokingly said that she was “way out of my league.” Well, I definitely proved it later that night. My date and I walked into the party as my car was getting the valet parking treatment (which in itself was a new experience for me), we entered the clubhouse and several of her family’s friends were there, and she immediately began to greet them. My naïveté and inexperience appeared when some guy started walking up to me with his hand extended. I didn’t know, so I naturally reached my hand out, introduced myself while shaking his hand. As I said, at that time I was only 15, but I also worked as a DJ at a local radio station. When I saw him walking up to me and his hand out, I figured he might have recognized me from one of the station flyers. Nope . . . when I went to shake his hand, he said he was one of the hosts and all he wanted was my coat. Ouch. Embarrassing, to say the least.
The only reason I brought this up was to prove that I can appreciate how Paul might have felt when he was called to testify in front of this audience of big shots Festus had called together:
“King Agrippa and all our honored guests, here is the man who has been charged with wrongdoing by the Jewish community—both in Jerusalem and here. The yelled for his execution, but I found him guilty of no capital offense. Then he appealed to our Imperial Majesty, so I have agreed that he will be sent to Rome. Here is where I need your help. I can’t send a man to our emperor without a letter logically detailing the charges against him, but I have no idea what to write. So, King Agrippa, and all of you honored guests, I’m requesting your help in determining what to write in my letter to the emperor” —Acts 25:23-26
This gathering of Caesarea’s elite was a gala event, kind of like the Oscar Awards, where the men wear their tuxedos and every woman comes decked out in some fancy (or gaudy) dress. I am sure that everyone Festus had invited came to the gathering in their finest clothing, but Luke seems to put the spotlight on Agrippa and Bernice. It says that Agrippa and Bernice “came with great pomp and entered the audience hall.” Just like there is now, I am guessing the unwritten rule of decorum was that you do not upstage the most prominent guests. Agrippa and Bernice were in the spotlight. They knew it, and of course, they loved it, and they intended to savor the moment as long as possible.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts