As Paul defended himself in this way, Festus shouted at him, “You are mad, Paul! Your great learning is driving you mad!” (Acts 26:24 GNB)
How many times do you meet a Christian who is so sure of who he is and what he has in Christ such that NOTHING, I mean NOTHING, intimidates or depresses him? It is very rarely that you meet such Christians. I doubt whether you who read this is one. In this day and age where we live in a world that celebrates financial and social attainments, and in which fame and popularity are the stock in trade, it is difficult to find Christians who are fully satisfied in their walk with God, and not counting on any other thing for extra satisfaction. Even some who have reason to boast concerning their walk with God tend to boast in terms of how much their faith had lifted them financially or socially, or otherwise.
But not the Apostle Paul; a prisoner, held for more than 2 years under an insincere and corrupt government, and who appears to have nothing working well for him in life. It is neither money, nor fame, nor popularity that he really had. However, he had found his rest IN CHRIST ALONE.
The council of King Agrippa and Governor Festus sat with pomp and pageantry. All the forces of the Roman Empire were at their command. They were intimidating in their posture, and were ready to show forth their radiant earthly glory. After the Governor’s initial speech, ‘the prisoner’ Paul was summoned to give his defense; but they reckoned without a knowing that the man standing before them was dead already to this world.
The Apostle was not as much interested in his defense as he was in seizing the opportunity to present the Gospel to King Agrippa (whose father had been instrumental to the death of Apostle James, the brother of John). Paul was not the one in bondage, Agrippa was. Paul was not the one that needed to be released from chains, Governor Festus was.
This attitude was strange to Governor Festus. He had never seen such a man like Paul before. He is used to seeing men who are standing before his court cowering at his person and his pomp and pageantry… but none of those things moved Paul. He did not speak disrespectfully, but he didn’t speak like a beggar. He did not speak like a man who was disadvantaged. He spoke of his encounter wuth Jesus, he spoke of the message the Lord gave him. He spoke until he came to the point where he said, “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:22-23 KJV)
Paul, essentially declared that the Gentiles (including Governor Festus) were in darkness, and that each man needed Jesus. He was not scared to proclaim the reality- that chrust is the light which all men needed. At this point, Governor Festus could not take it again, so, he roared, “You are mad, Paul! Your great learning is driving you mad!” (Acts 26:24 GNB) Paul was undeterred. He turned to King Agrippa and continued his speech. He was persuading the king to believe in the Gospel message. At some point, he even compelled the king to a decision. It was so shocking and so unbelievable, but the king, in his pride could not agree. Rather, he deferred the decision and sarcastically replied that Paul wanted to make him a Christian with only a short argument. The response of Paul to the king’s speech was interesting. He replied,
“I pray to God that both you and those here listening to me would one day become the same as I am, except, of course, without these chains.” (Acts 26:29 TPT)
What effrontery! Paul, a prisoner, looked at a king with his pomp and pageantry and said, “I wish you will become like me.” He was essentially declaring to the king that he (Paul) was far superior to him (King Agrippa). He proclaimed that on account of Christ who he is serving, he is a man of greater quality than Governor Festus. It is unfortunate that many Christians do not reason this way. They look at their lives and conclude that they are failures judging by merely earthly standards. They do not place any value on their walk with God, and on the fact that they have a fellowship with Him, and represent Him in this evil world.
The king and the Governor agreed that Paul had no reason to be kept in captivity, but they said that since he had appealed to Caesar, he must go to Caesar. However, they did nothing about the testimony of Jesus which Paul bore. It was 2 years later, and Governor Festus died after leading an uneventful life. As for King Agrippa, the Romans retired him from kingship and he spent the last 30 years of his life working in his garden, and died in AD 100. The only reason we ever knew about them was because of the very prisoner who stood before them to give his testimony.
AND SO? I pray for you, as I prayed for myself, that we will be made into a generation who is convicted and sure of this Christian faith, that no one (I mean no one) can intimidate us. I pray we will come to the point where we can look at men richer than us, more educated than us, and more famous than us and tell them in all sincerity, “I wish you will become like me. I wish you will have what I had; and I pity you since you do not have it.”
GOD BLESS US ALL.