CCF: Acts 26 - The Madness of Paul
Bro. Fred Magbanua
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Can you go to jail because of what you believe? Actually, you won’t go to jail because of what you believe as long as you keep silent and do nothing about it. This is not the case for Apostle Paul, in the books of Acts, he was called crazy, “out of your mind” by Governor Festus because he believed and claimed that Jesus was dead, buried and rose again – which is the same reason why Paul was in prison.
“Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad.” --Acts 26:24
In previous chapter we learned that Paul was in prison due to the accusations of Jews that he was causing trouble in Jerusalem and teaching not to observe the Law of Moses. They even conspire to kill Paul, upon learning this the Tribune sends Paul to Governor Felix of Caesarea with a huge escort of soldiers. He was kept in custody in Caesarea for two years until Porcius Festus succeeded Felix. This time the Chief Priests and Jews raised their case against Paul and appealed for Paul to be brought back to Jerusalem with the plan to ambush and kill him along the way. Paul defended himself and appealed to be tried by Caesar in Rome. Before making a decision, Governor Festus arranged a hearing for Paul while the King of Jews, King Agrippa II visited him.
This brings us to Acts chapter 26. We can dissect this chapter into three main sections:
1. Paul’s Pious Background - Acts 26: 2-11
Beginning with a compliment to Agrippa, he presented his perspective of his situation and proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He told the entire royal audience, how he lived as a Pharisee, the strictest party of the Jewish sect. How he persecuted Christians because of his belief. He was zealous for his religion! He was zealous for how he thought he was obeying God! But he had raging fury inside him. He had no peace! He had no rest.
Key point: Religiosity does not bring peace.
And if religiosity does not bring peace, then other activities that just fill our time won’t bring peace either. The life of Paul and his writings teaches us that true peace is found in a right relationship with Jesus.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” –Romans 15:13
2. The Risen Jesus Calls Paul to the Gentiles - Acts 26:12-23
Paul continues with his journey to Damascus and how God appeared to him, rebuked him and appointed him as a servant and witness to the Gentiles to open their eyes that they may receive forgiveness through faith in Jesus. Paul was on his path to persecute Christians but Jesus stopped him.
“… It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” -- Acts 26:14b
Jesus had a specific mission for Paul. What is God’s specific mission for you? Have you asked Jesus to reveal it to you, with a heart that says “yes, Lord”, even before you know the answer? Who are the people God wants to reach through you, that you have a unique association with? Or what special ability do you have, what uncommon background and experiences have you been through, that prepares you for a special role that only you can fulfil? That space is lacking until you and only you will say yes to it.
Key point: Respond to Jesus and know your mission.
Answer the call of Jesus. Don’t kick against the goads. Don’t kick until your foot is bloody. Seek your personal mission. Obey and take the next step! Don’t wait until you have everything. As you recognize Jesus as Lord of your life, follow Him, and let Him light the path around you
3. The Court’s Evaluation - Acts 26:24-32
In response, Governor Festus told Paul was insane and that his great learning has driven him out of him mind. Paul responded with love and hope that all his listeners would come to know God like he did. In the end of the trial, the king, governor, Bernice and the audience doesn’t find anything Paul did for him to deserve death or imprisonment.
Key point: Make today count
Paul gave us the example. He did not shrink back in declaring Jesus before Kings and governors. The world would call it insanity, like the “insanity” of Paul. But we answer to a different Lord, not to the world, but to the Lord Jesus. We have today. Make it count.
If there’s one takeaway verse from the whole chapter of Acts 26 message:
“… It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” --Acts 26:14b
Don’t kick against the goads. Learn what God is doing in your life. If you need to bow down to recognize Jesus as Lord, if you even need to fall off your horse, recognize Jesus. If you need to receive your marching orders, your mission, your objectives, your function and gift within the body, seek it and know it. Then act on it. Daily. Don’t kick against the goads.
Make each day count.