Murder with Malice Aforethought

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 29-30; Acts 23:1-15

12 The next morning some Jewish leaders formulated a plot and solemnly promised that they wouldn’t eat or drink until they had killed Paul.13 More than forty people were involved in the conspiracy. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have solemnly promised to eat nothing until we have killed Paul. 15 You and the council must explain to the commander that you need Paul brought down to you. Pretend that you want to examine his case more closely. We’re prepared to kill him before he arrives.” (Acts 23:12-15, Common English Bible).

I have vague memories when I was a kid of a family friend having jury duty. I don’t really remember if it was the husband or the wife with jury duty but one of them did and after the trial was over, they told us about it.

I don’t remember now any of the details of the case but I do remember, there was never a question that the perpetrator had committed the crime. He was guilty of murder and I think he even admitted as much. What was at the root of the jury’s debate was, did the perpetrator commit murder with malice, any intentional murder that is willful and premeditated with malice aforethought. This would be any murder when you sat and thought about doing it. You planned what you would do. Then you went out and did it.

On the other hand, murder without malice aforethought is murder where someone has thought about but has not yet planned the specifics before the murder was actually carried out.

What made it a big deal was the differences in sentences. I don’t remember now what the difference was and the laws in Texas have changed since then. Now in Texas murder is murder, unless it is capital murder. It made a difference.

In today’s Acts readings, the lawyers might have to break out their law books to review what the law actually says.  The Jewish leaders formed a plot to kill Paul. If this were to happen today, you could throw a conspiracy in there as well. That would add even more years to an already long prison sentence.

Those plotting pledged that they would neither eat or drink until Paul was dead. There was malice aforethought and conspiracy too. I do believe it was a long wait for some food. Paul would die at the hands of the empire. It would take a while to happen, but eventually, it did come to pass.

Paul points out, and rightfully so, the Pharisees want him dead. Paul stresses to the group, which included some Pharisees, that he himself was Pharisee, Paul begs to be allowed to stand trial. He wanted a trial. He wanted to receive the same treatment as any other Pharisee received. Paul was still at work, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to everyone he possibly could reach. He wants each of us to have that Good News too. What more could we want?

And as for the Pharisees? what they were doingquite simply, was murder with malice aforethought.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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