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


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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