June 7, 2019
King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea on a visit to Festus. Since they spent several days there, Festus referred Paul’s case to the king, saying, “There is a man here left in custody by Felix. When I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation. . . . Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy, I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these charges. And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.” Acts_25:13b-21
After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” Jn_21:15-19
Imagine driving down the road, and you’re on a mission. You’re a little late in picking up your daughter at school, and you know that she’ll be impatiently waiting for you. How’s that saying go? “Hell hath no fury like a daughter scorned.” You love her so much, and you don’t want to disappoint her, so you push that gas pedal down a little further than the road sign says you should.
Three-quarters the way there, you suddenly see that dreaded flashing red light in your rear view mirror. “Oh no,” you gasp, “Now I’m going to be even later!” When you roll down the window, the stern-faced officer, in a low, monotone voice asks you, “Mr. Jones, son of the governor, Are you a good citizen?” You say “Absolutely!” He says, “Be a good example.“ (And that was only for the first 5-miles over the limit).
Then he asks you again, “Mr. Jones, son of the governor, Are you a good citizen?” You say, “Sir, You know my father, you know that I am a good citizen.” He says, “Drive responsibly.”
And finally after hearing the question the third time, and knowing that you were 15-miles-an-hour over the speed limit, you finally say, “OK, you know that I was 15-miles over the speed limit, but I’m late in picking up my daughter and I really need to get there . . . Otherwise, I truly am a good citizen.“
Then he warns you, “You know, Mr. Jones, if you keep driving like this, even if you are a good citizen, you’re going to end up in a wreck. And what do you think that wreck will say to our State about you? I know that you are a good citizen. And I also know that you love your children. But sometimes you just have to prioritize. And being in a wreck will make you a whole lot later than even getting this ticket. So in your great love, be a good citizen too, and everyone will be a whole lot safer and happier!“
St. Peter was also three-times over the limit, in his triple-denial of Jesus. All for his own self-preservation. You see, even after 3-years of following Jesus, Peter still didn’t have enough Faith to trust. To trust that the Lord would take care of him, no matter how stressful a situation he was in.
And, as great – a surrogate-apostle – as St. Paul was, he wasn’t 100% on target either, as we heard today. In this third trial over his faith in the Lord, Paul was finally put to the true test. The test of deciding to go back to Jerusalem to face a murderous mob, just as Jesus did, or to pull out his ultimate trump card of appealing to the Roman Emperor – who just happened to be the infamous Christian enemy, Nero.
Unfortunately, Paul trusted in his trump card, over His Lord, in order to save his own skin. And in the end, King Agrippa told Festus that IF Paul had not appealed to the Emperor, he could have been set free!
It just makes us ponder, brothers and sisters. Is our Faith in the Lord strong enough to risk taking that seemingly easy escape route – to lie, deny or reply, when our trust in the Lord would have unquestionably offered us the greater, the greatest reward, even at the risk of a little suffering?
Both Peter and Paul learned well that lesson. By their example, then, are we willing to put 100% of our faith and our love in Jesus?
This is exactly why we “practice” our faith! So that when the real trials come, we WILL be ready – in faith, to trust in the Lord!
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