Daily D – Acts 26:32
And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.” ACTS 26:32 (NLT)
The USA celebrated its 244th birthday recently. (Note: Feel free to continue reading because this is not a political rant.) Think about how long that has been. Think of all that has happened in that time. We call it history. We study it as elementary school students, in middle school, high school, and college. Some of us even major in it. Some of us still read thick books with few pictures about people long dead. Some people have recently learned a wee bit of history through the Broadway play Hamilton. History is more interesting than fiction. This is true even for history which is told from a twenty-first century, politically-correct worldview.
The Apostle Paul had been in jail in Caesarea for over two years. He had appealed to Caesar. He had one last opportunity to communicate the good news to an important audience before setting sail. Herod Agrippa, Bernice, Festus, and their entourages gathered to hear Paul’s story. He told it well. He told it persuasively (v. 28). Walking away, Agrippa and Festus agreed that Paul could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.
Do you think Paul would have taken back his appeal if he could have? If he had been given the option of a dangerous commute to the Supreme Court where his life would be on the line or going free to do whatever he wanted to do, what do you think he would have chosen?
Like our Father in heaven, Paul was playing the long game. Why gain three yards with a cloud of dusty effort when a touchdown was possible? The most high-value audience in the whole world awaited his arrival. He would be able to speak not only to the emperor but to everyone gathered in the room in the heart of the Empire. What would happen, what would be different for the whole world if the emperor placed his faith in Christ for salvation? That is why Paul chose to appeal to Caesar.
We do not know precisely how that encounter went. Paul writes in 2 Tim. 4:16-18 about his first appearance before a judge, most likely a magistrate who would clarify the details of the charge and set the hour for Paul’s appearance. He wrote in v. 17, “But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death.” The NIV, CSB, and ESV say Paul was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
In other words, he would get his opportunity to tell his story at least one more time. He had at least one more opportunity to declare God’s grace to all who would believe.
While we do not know how that particular court appearance went, we do know that particular emperor did not give his life to Jesus. Some from his household did, however (Phil. 4:22). Seeds were planted. Time passed. The blood of martyrs flowed. Then about as many years as The USA has been an independent country, Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity. His mother’s visit to the Holy Land initiated several projects including the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Paul chose a loss of freedom for himself so that he could extend God’s offer of ultimate freedom to all who would receive it. He lived his mission to the very end. That mission still bears fruit today. You will influence the twenty-second century. Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will likely live that long. What will they carry with them into those ages to come based on your sacrificial life? What decisions will you make today which will reverberate into eternity to come?
Sometimes the fruit of our efforts takes a long time to ripen. Do not act more hurriedly than our Father in heaven. His timing is perfect. He is working out details in lives and in history we cannot perceive. Pray, work, serve, and follow him for as long as you live. Someday you will look back and see all he accomplished through your fruitful and effective life. It will take your breath away. What world do you want for your descendants? Create it today with your obedience to God’s mission and that vision.
I will live on mission as long as I live confident in God’s ability to maximize my obedience.
Our Father, what would you have me do today that will echo for generations? Amen.
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Ruth 1:20, 21 “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” she answered, “for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (CSB)