Held on a Technicality

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 35-36; Acts 25

13 After several days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea to welcome Festus. 14 Since they were staying there for many days, Festus discussed the case against Paul with the king. He said, “There is a man whom Felix left in prison. 15 When I was in Jerusalem, the Jewish chief priests and elders brought charges against him and requested a guilty verdict in his case. 16 I told them it is contrary to Roman practice to hand someone over before they have faced their accusers and had opportunity to offer a defense against the charges.17 When they came here, I didn’t put them off. The very next day I took my seat in the court and ordered that the man be brought before me.18 When the accusers took the floor, they didn’t charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 Instead, they quibbled with him about their own religion and about some dead man named Jesus, who Paul claimed was alive. 20 Since I had no idea how to investigate these matters, I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to stand trial there on these issues. 21 However, Paul appealed that he be held in custody pending a decision from His Majesty the emperor, so I ordered that he be held until I could send him to Caesar.”

22 Agrippa said to Festus, “I want to hear the man myself.”

“Tomorrow,” Festus replied, “you will hear him.”

23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great fanfare. They entered the auditorium with the military commanders and the city’s most prominent men. Festus then ordered that Paul be brought in.24 Festus said, “King Agrippa and everyone present with us: You see this man! The entire Jewish community, both here and in Jerusalem, has appealed to me concerning him. They’ve been calling for his immediate death. 25 I’ve found that he has done nothing deserving death. When he appealed to His Majesty, I decided to send him to Rome. 26 I have nothing definite to write to our lord emperor. Therefore, I’ve brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after this investigation, I might have something to write. 27 After all, it would be foolish to send a prisoner without specifying the charges against him.” (Acts 25:13-27, Common English Bible).

As most all of us know, because of the internet we get more news faster than had ever been possible before. Because of advances in DNA research, we are also able to learn more about ourselves and about one another than we ever knew before.

We don’t hear it too often, but just often enough to remind us it is possible. It is possible for someone, particularly someone accused before today’s DNA technology, who, by the current DNA technology is proven innocent. The evidence of hair or bodily fluids proves beyond anything approaching a reasonable doubt that this person could not have committed the crime.

What is particularly troublesome then is, on some kind of technicality, that person remains behind bars. They are innocent. They have always been innocent and yet they remain in jail because their case didn’t complete early enough in the day on Friday so they must spend the weekend in jail. And that technicality is a minor one.

For Paul, in our lesson, today, Festus, the imperial governor, is explaining to King Agrippa, “The entire Jewish community, both here and in Jerusalem, has appealed to me concerning him. They’ve been calling for his immediate death. I’ve found that he has done nothing deserving death. When he appealed to His Majesty, I decided to send him to Rome.”

But for Paul’s appeal to Rome, he might have quickly become a free man. All he had to do was go back to Jerusalem for trial before Festus who has already said he sees nothing of Paul deserving this treatment from the Jews. But, Paul appealed to the emperor and before the emperor he must stand.

But I think Paul was comfortable in this decision. He was comfortable because of his faith in Jesus Christ. That faith made him free in ways he would never know while depending solely on the judgment of Festus.

May we know that level of freedom too.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

Author:

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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