Jesus changes everything in our lives once Jesus is the reason for living life. Jesus changes our thought life which in turn changes what we do. Jesus surprises us with wisdom beyond ourselves, knowing just what we need for any given situation. Jesus gives us words to explain His redemptive truth in us when opportunities are given to proclaim Who He and can be to all people who believe. Once we hear Jesus speak to us, offering life forever, while filling us with joy and peace that is unexplainable, we cannot just walk away. I couldn’t walk away!
Paul’s story of what God did in him is one of the most tremendous examples of life change we will ever read. We love to read when Paul tells his transformation story to those who either want to kill him, those who are curious and are amused by him, or those who are really seeking Jesus and want what Paul has. He just can’t walk away from telling people, all people, about Jesus.
Isn’t that similar for us today? As believers, we are continually challenged by the curious, the judgmental, the hateful and those really seeking Jesus. We know that in all types, Jesus is with us. He gave us His promised Holy Spirit to guide our words and actions for every situation. We lean on Jesus for He is our confidence, courage, constant peace, and power because of His and unending love, mercy and grace. Jesus speaks through us. We just can’t walk away from Him.
Read and meditate on what Jesus did for Paul as he presented Truth to King Agrippa…
ACTS—God’s Actions through His Disciples
Acts 26-27, The Message
13-17 A few days later King Agrippa and his wife, Bernice, visited Caesarea to welcome Festus to his new post. After several days, Festus brought up Paul’s case to the king. “I have a man on my hands here, a prisoner left by Felix. When I was in Jerusalem, the high priests and Jewish leaders brought a bunch of accusations against him and wanted me to sentence him to death. I told them that wasn’t the way we Romans did things. Just because a man is accused, we don’t throw him out to the dogs. We make sure the accused has a chance to face his accusers and defend himself of the charges. So when they came down here I got right on the case. I took my place in the courtroom and put the man on the stand.
18-21 “The accusers came at him from all sides, but their accusations turned out to be nothing more than arguments about their religion and a dead man named Jesus, who the prisoner claimed was alive. Since I’m a newcomer here and don’t understand everything involved in cases like this, I asked if he’d be willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried there. Paul refused and demanded a hearing before His Majesty in our highest court. So I ordered him returned to custody until I could send him to Caesar in Rome.”
22 Agrippa said, “I’d like to see this man and hear his story.”
“Good,” said Festus. “We’ll bring him in first thing in the morning and you’ll hear it for yourself.”
23 The next day everybody who was anybody in Caesarea found his way to the Great Hall, along with the top military brass. Agrippa and Bernice made a flourishing grand entrance and took their places. Festus then ordered Paul brought in.
24-26 Festus said, “King Agrippa and distinguished guests, take a good look at this man. A bunch of Jews petitioned me first in Jerusalem, and later here, to do away with him. They have been most vehement in demanding his execution. I looked into it and decided that he had committed no crime. He requested a trial before Caesar and I agreed to send him to Rome. But what am I going to write to my master, Caesar? All the charges made by the Jews were fabrications, and I’ve uncovered nothing else.
26-27 “That’s why I’ve brought him before this company, and especially you, King Agrippa: so we can come up with something in the nature of a charge that will hold water. For it seems to me silly to send a prisoner all that way for a trial and not be able to document what he did wrong.”
“I Couldn’t Just Walk Away”
26 1-3 Agrippa spoke directly to Paul: “Go ahead—tell us about yourself.”
Paul took the stand and told his story. “I can’t think of anyone, King Agrippa, before whom I’d rather be answering all these Jewish accusations than you, knowing how well you are acquainted with Jewish ways and all our family quarrels.
4-8 “From the time of my youth, my life has been lived among my own people in Jerusalem. Practically every Jew in town who watched me grow up—and if they were willing to stick their necks out, they’d tell you in person—knows that I lived as a strict Pharisee, the most demanding branch of our religion. It’s because I believed it and took it seriously, committed myself heart and soul to what God promised my ancestors—the identical hope, mind you, that the twelve tribes have lived for night and day all these centuries—it’s because I have held on to this tested and tried hope that I’m being called on the carpet by the Jews. They should be the ones standing trial here, not me! For the life of me, I can’t see why it’s a criminal offense to believe that God raises the dead.
9-11 “I admit that I didn’t always hold to this position. For a time I thought it was my duty to oppose this Jesus of Nazareth with all my might. Backed with the full authority of the high priests, I threw these believers—I had no idea they were God’s people!—into the Jerusalem jail right and left, and whenever it came to a vote, I voted for their execution. I stormed through their meeting places, bullying them into cursing Jesus, a one-man terror obsessed with obliterating these people. And then I started on the towns outside Jerusalem.
12-14 “One day on my way to Damascus, armed as always with papers from the high priests authorizing my action, right in the middle of the day a blaze of light, light outshining the sun, poured out of the sky on me and my companions. Oh, King, it was so bright! We fell flat on our faces. Then I heard a voice in Hebrew: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me? Why do you insist on going against the grain?’
15-16 “I said, ‘Who are you, Master?’
“The voice answered, ‘I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down like an animal. But now, up on your feet—I have a job for you. I’ve handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what’s happened today, and to what I am going to show you.
17-18 “‘I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’
19-20 “What could I do, King Agrippa? I couldn’t just walk away from a vision like that! I became an obedient believer on the spot. I started preaching this life-change—this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life—right there in Damascus, went on to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, and from there to the whole world.
21-23 “It’s because of this ‘whole world’ dimension that the Jews grabbed me in the Temple that day and tried to kill me. They want to keep God for themselves. But God has stood by me, just as he promised, and I’m standing here saying what I’ve been saying to anyone, whether king or child, who will listen. And everything I’m saying is completely in line with what the prophets and Moses said would happen: One, the Messiah must die; two, raised from the dead, he would be the first rays of God’s daylight shining on people far and near, people both godless and God-fearing.”
24 That was too much for Festus. He interrupted with a shout: “Paul, you’re crazy! You’ve read too many books, spent too much time staring off into space! Get a grip on yourself, get back in the real world!”
25-27 But Paul stood his ground. “With all respect, Festus, Your Honor, I’m not crazy. I’m both accurate and sane in what I’m saying. The king knows what I’m talking about. I’m sure that nothing of what I’ve said sounds crazy to him. He’s known all about it for a long time. You must realize that this wasn’t done behind the scenes. You believe the prophets, don’t you, King Agrippa? Don’t answer that—I know you believe.”
28 But Agrippa did answer: “Keep this up much longer and you’ll make a Christian out of me!”
29 Paul, still in chains, said, “That’s what I’m praying for, whether now or later, and not only you but everyone listening today, to become like me—except, of course, for this prison jewelry!”
30-31 The king and the governor, along with Bernice and their advisors, got up and went into the next room to talk over what they had heard. They quickly agreed on Paul’s innocence, saying, “There’s nothing in this man deserving prison, let alone death.”
32 Agrippa told Festus, “He could be set free right now if he hadn’t requested the hearing before Caesar.”
THERE’S MORE TO THE STORY…BUT WHAT DO WE LEARN TODAY?
Paul does not let down or give up. He testified of Jesus in this way: “I just couldn’t walk away…I now preach life-change through Jesus Christ! “I started preaching this life-change—this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life—right there in Damascus, went on to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, and from there to the whole world.” Ah, but this is the problem. The devout Jewish leaders who had Jesus killed do not believe God is for everyone. Therein lies the controversy.
Jesus will bring change in our thoughts, plans, purposes and subsequent actions. When God acts through us, as He did with His disciples, it is usually not as we planned. The road it hard but His plan for us is far better than we imagined. Paul, who knows Jesus very well, who is now a prisoner because He preaches Jesus as Truth, writes clearly of God’s purpose followed by a powerful prayer for the church in Ephesus. This is who Paul is, “a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the benefit of Gentiles”, speaking to King Agrippa about the King of kinds and Lord of lords who changed His life and spiritual address for eternity.
Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Growth-Ephesians 3:14-21
14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
So, we see dear friends, Paul isn’t about to walk away from Jesus who changed His life forever.
Do we? Will we? Have we been tempted to walk away?
Is it time to come back to the One and Only who changes everything about us because of His love for us?
Pray and reflect.
How amazing you are! May Paul’s prayer be my prayer today. I believe. I cannot walk away. I won’t walk away. Why would I? I’m yours, Lord, heart, mind and soul.
In Jesus Name, For His glory, Amen.