Before Kings and Madmen
Festus needed help. In order to keep the peace with the Jews, the new governor of Judea after Felix asks Herod Agrippa’s help in framing Paul of a crime worthy of sending him to Caesar in Rome. Neither man fully understands why the Jews hate Paul. Neither do they understand the gospel.
Everyone was talking about “the Way.” Even Festus and Agrippa wanted to learn firsthand from the apostle what the Way really was. When Paul first turned in faith to Jesus Christ, God said there would be a day when he would stand before kings and rulers. Well, today is that day.
This is the zenith of Paul’s entire ministry, and he uses it to preach one of the greatest sermons on record. This isn’t a court trial; Paul doesn’t defend himself, but rather this is an open door for him to explain the gospel so that Agrippa would understand and turn in faith to Jesus Christ. Several hundred people fill the room, but Paul speaks only to King Agrippa, urging him to turn to Jesus Christ.
Let’s picture the scene. With great ceremony, Herod Agrippa and his wife Bernice enter the court. Then, in steps Paul, an unimpressive prisoner chained between two guards. But Paul captures their interest because he is an intelligent man and knows how to speak well. They also notice the light of heaven on his face.
Really, even with hundreds watching on, there were just two men in the room. One in purple, the other in prison garb. One on a throne, the other in shackles. Agrippa is a king, but in the slavery of sin. Paul is a chained prisoner, rejoicing in the freedom of sins forgiven and liberty in Christ. Agrippa is an earthly king who could not free Paul nor himself. And Paul is an ambassador of Christ the King who set him free and who could free Agrippa from the damning effects of sin.
Paul wants King Agrippa to know this. A skillful passion fills Paul’s soul as he pleads with Agrippa to turn to Christ.
Paul stood now in front of a gentile king and presented the gospel: That Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again. Paul proclaims to this royal assembly that God stepped into man’s history to do something for man. He demonstrated His love for us by giving us His Son. And Agrippa, from what seemed a tortured soul, admits, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian” (26:28).
Almost. Do you know you can almost be a Christian and still be lost for eternity? Almost will not do. Either you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior or you don’t. It cannot be almost; it must be all.
Agrippa has now heard enough. They heard about the Way and heard the truth and the way to life. Agrippa then stands and leaves the room. He concludes Paul has committed no crime and would have set him free except that Paul had appealed to Caesar.
Paul longed to go to Rome—to see the followers of the Way there, to establish them in the truth. And although he’s going an unexpected way, Paul now is on his way.
Next, the unexpected adventure continues on the open sea on the way to Rome.