1999-03-18 - Wisdom: God vs Men
Matt 10:28 "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (NAS)
In Acts 25:13, we find Governor Festus on the horns of a dilemma. He has inherited a problem from his predecessor Felix. That dilemma is embodied in Paul the Apostle. Paul has become a political prisoner being held to please the Jewish leadership. Rightly, Felix should have released Paul after the first trial, but Felix feared the Jewish leaders, and perhaps a riot if he did. When the idea of being returned to Jerusalem to stand trial there was proposed, Paul knew his life would be in imminent danger.
Festus asks King Agrippa, a Roman appointee, to help him judge the case of Paul the Apostle. The bulk of Paul's defense is based on the resurrection of 'a certain Jesus'. Festus is grasping at straws to help define the case against Paul before Paul is sent to Rome. Felix quickly arranges for all the people of importance to be assembled in honor of his visiting dignitary. At the appointed hour, the trumpets sound and the assembly begins. Men and women draped in purple linen - mayors and council members. Once they are seated and quiet, the trumpets sound again and Herod Agrippa enters with his companion, Bernice. The men of power in the area are assembled to hear the case of Paul.
Enter Paul. A shorter man, bent over from beatings with the Roman lash. He can not hold his head up, probably because muscles in his neck have been severed by the chunks of glass and metal in the lash. His eyes are either glazed over with cataracts or weeping from disease or injury. This hobbled man takes center stage.
1 Cor 1:25-29 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, 29 that no man should boast before God. (NAS)
From an earthy perspective we have the powerful in the seats of the amphitheater here to witness the trial of the weak. The wise of this world sit in judgment over the foolishness of Paul. The hobbled apostle represents earthy abasement while those robed in purple represent power. But God has manipulated this scene to His way. His willing bond-servant, Paul, now has a captive audience to speak to on his favorite topic - Jesus. The Lord of Hosts has moved the pawns of this world, manipulated the schedules of those who think themselves mighty to bring them together at this moment in time. To make it even more ironic, God will use this bent and nearly blind man to speak His truth to them.
As Paul spoke, Festus accused Paul of madness from having learned too much. Whether this was to amuse and set at ease the gather nobles, or Festus was feeling the grip of Paul's logic I do not know. But his words were having their impact into Aggripa's mind.
Acts 26:28-29 And Agrippa replied to Paul, "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian." 29 And Paul said, "I would to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains." (NAS)
Here is the great heart of the Apostle Paul. He spoke at any opportunity, to anyone who would listen about Jesus Christ and His salvation offered to mankind. Why did he speak? First, he was compelled by the love in his heart for his Savior. Paul had been forgiven much, and therefore, loved much. Second, the gift Paul had received was so great that it spilled over out of his life. He had to share it or burst. It was as natural as breathing, not mystical or bizarre. It was not a side show or a circus. It was simple, powerful truth offered from the heart of God to sinful man. The way back home has been opened again. Come and see!
Is this our heart? Or has the love Jesus poured into our lives become so second nature to us that it no longer breaks our hearts to consider it? He gave up more than we can imagine to come and live among us. He lived our trials and pain and loss. He was tried, suffered brutality and died in our place - willingly. He did all this for one reason. To reconnect the human race to God, to make a way for us to get home to Heaven and live with Him forever. We could do nothing at all to help ourselves. We were dead spiritually and even enemies of God, hostile to Him. And Jesus still came for each of us. Ponder these thoughts for a minute and see if a spark doesn't return that may have cooled.
Lord Jesus - rekindle the fire we once felt on our hearts at the simple love you showed us. Allow us to be the simple, weak things that rock the world to it's foundations one person at a time. If we have left it, bring us back to that intimate time we shared with you as new believers. Weed out the cares of this world and fill in the soil around us so we can put down roots deep in You. Amen.