Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 8 2013 - Acts 26:1-32 – You must be mad!

Paul is eager to defend himself before Festus, and particularly before Agrippa who is familiar with the Jewish Scriptures and is aware of all that has happened in Jerusalem in recent years.

Paul insists that he is on trial for the very things the Jews have longed for and looked for over many years. Jesus is the promised Messiah, the one who fulfils all that Moses and the prophets had written about. It was in fulfilment of these Scriptures that Jesus was rejected and put to death, and it was in fulfilment of these Scriptures that he was raised from the dead. His resurrection is the very thing that the twelve tribes of Israel have hoped for; it anticipates and guarantees the coming day of general resurrection and precipitates the Messianic age – the age to come.

Paul knows that all of this is true because the risen Saviour appeared to him when he was intent upon the destruction of those who believed Jesus to be the Christ. It was the risen Jesus who has sent Paul to both Jews and Gentiles, “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” And Paul was not disobedient to this vision from heaven: even now, he seeks to bring the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ to Festus and to Agrippa and to all those listening to his defence.

Festus responds by accusing Paul of being mad. His constant study of the Scriptures has affected his mind. Paul insists that what he is saying is nothing other than the sober truth and appeals to King Agrippa. Surely Agrippa knows what was written by the prophets and believes their testimony? But Agrippa is unwilling to be put on the spot – particularly in front of others; surely Paul can’t think to persuade him of what he is saying in one brief meeting.

The Christian message has not changed: it concerns Jesus death and resurrection and the forgiveness of sins and eternal life that are to be found only in him. He alone can free us from Satan’s dark domain, bring us into the light of his presence and make us part of the family of God. Sadly, the response to such a message often also remains unchanged. To some, the Christian message appears to be a form of madness; why would anyone pay so much attention to an old book like the Bible? To others, it may appear to have something of the ring of truth but there are far more pressing things that demand attention. There are many who will continually put off serious consideration of Jesus.

A passion for understanding the Bible and an enthusiasm for speaking of Jesus Christ as the focus of history and the hope of the world may gain us a reputation for being mentally unhinged and immoderately pushy. Are we ready for such a reputation or are we more ready to curb our enthusiasm? Are we, like Paul, eager to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ?

Living God, we bless you for your precious gift to us of your Son. Thank you for the many blessings which are ours in him. Thank you that our sins have been forgiven and that his light and love have flooded our lives. Help us always to bear faithful testimony to Jesus, the focus of your gracious purposes towards the world you have made. Be pleased to open the eyes of many that they may be brought out of the kingdom of darkness into the light and hope that is to be found in the Lord Jesus.

Peter Misselbrook