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Trying To Make An Impression

Acts 25:23-27
The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high-ranking military officers and the prominent men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. Festus said: 'King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome. But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. For I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him.’ (NIVUK)

Naturally, human beings are proud in their hearts. Most of us have many reasons for being humbled and not daring to display our pride too much, but the trappings of high office can bring it to the surface. The new governor of Northern Israel and Syria, Festus, was being visited by King Herod Agrippa II. It was a diplomatic visit but also an opportunity to show Festus that he was under Herod's jurisdiction. Both men were trying to impress each other.

Agrippa came into the great hall in fine robes accompanied by tribunes and a procession of people who thought they were important. Festus hosted the proceedings. After all the pomp and ceremony, Festus ordered that Paul be brought in. All eyes were on the prisoner; such a contrast to the king, and his incestuous sister-wife, Bernice, in all their finery. The apostle was chained to two soldiers, a dramatic statement that Paul was a nobody, totally under their control.

Festus made a grand speech, designed to impress the king, military, and civic officials; and designed to belittle Paul. The governor portrayed himself as a wise, just and impartial man, although that was not true. He was frightened that the religious establishment would protest against him or that Caesar would be angered to receive a prisoner who had done nothing wrong. So he publicly put the responsibility onto Agrippa to provide an official reason for Paul's appearance in Rome. Agrippa's entrance was grand. But although his relationship with Bernice was a public scandal, like his ancestors, he was determined to be seen as the supreme power in Israel.

God does not work like that. In Christ, He came to earth as a baby, conceived in an unmarried mother, and was a refugee until He became a tradesman working with wood and nails: yet He became the Saviour of the world. The church usually appears fragile but it is actually eternal. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 says, "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." There is no need to try to make an impression on God because He uses humble people in a way which proud people cannot even imagine. So if you feel you have nothing to boast about – praise God. If you do boast – repent.

Gracious God. Thank You that You know all about me, and that, as a sinner, I have no reason to be proud in my own eyes. Forgive me for trying to make an impression when You already know the truth. Please help me to learn humility from the Lord Jesus and allow Your power to shine through my weakness. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams