Summary: A sermon on Festus, King Agrippa, and Paul from Acts 26:19-32. (Outline adapted from J.C. Ryle and MaClaren’s Expositions of Holy Scripture)
Sermon for 9/25/2005
A. I hate pictures. Crystal loves them. I had a great problem when we made our pictorial directory.
B. What bothers me is that someone takes a camera and says, “Smile.”
C. When I was a child I hated it more than I do now. It has come to backfire on me. I would always make faces, put bunny ears over someone’s head, and generally be a goof. Now when Crystal sees pictures of me when I was a child I am either restrained in some way or in a goofy pose.
D. I love action shots where we get people caught off guard. I love pictures of people where they are natural, as they normally are.
E. Now we have video cameras that can capture it in moving pictures. Crystal and I have one of these. I don’t mind the idea of seeing the happy and joyful moments in moving pictures; after all it is more natural. However, someone has to run the camera and many times it is me. I don’t want to run the camera, I want to be part of the action, live in the moment and not have to worry about capturing it on tape.
F. From our Scriptures this morning, if someone were to take a picture of this audience room, in the front would be three people and everyone else would be behind them. If we had a video camera these three would do all of the talking and we would see that they are the main characters, the movers and shakers.
G. In our Scriptures this morning, we have the Apostle Paul making a defense of himself before the Roman governor Festus and the Jewish king Agrippa. We have here a picture of three very different men.
H. These three represent three classes of men who are still among us today. In spite of all the changes through time, man is basically the same.
Thesis: Let’s look at these three characters and see what we can learn.
1. Festus, the Roman Governor.
A. Festus has just come on the scene and he is a typical high class Roman of his day.
B. He was in the good graces of the Emperor Nero and he has become Governor of Syria and Palestine to try to clean up a bad situation.
E. In these Scriptures Festus is dealing with some of predecessor Felix’s bad decisions, mainly the case of Paul. In Acts 21 and 22 Paul goes to Jerusalem and goes into the temple where a mob of Jews are going to tear him apart. The Roman soldiers, fearing a riot, come and arrest Paul and put him in prison. In Acts 24, there is a trial about Paul’s case before the then Governor Felix. Felix finds Paul innocent but keeps him in custody hoping that Paul would offer him a bride to let him go. Paul would not do something like this so Felix kept him in custody for two years. When Felix was recalled to Rome, Felix left Paul in prison as a favor to the Jews.
F. When the now governor Festus comes on the scene in Acts 25, after a few days, he has a trial about Paul’s case, and he again finds Paul’s innocent based on Roman law, but since much of this was based on Jewish law, Festus suggests that Paul stand trial in Jerusalem before the Sanhedrin. Paul is against this and he appeals to Caesar. (Acts 25:12 NIV) After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: "You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!"
G. Festus, being a wise politician and being new to the region, asked the advice of King Herod Agrippa on Paul’s case. Festus did not want to send Paul to the Emperor without explaining the charges against Paul. Festus was in a sticky situation. If he released Paul, this would cause the Jews to riot. If he sent Paul to Rome without any Roman charges, he would look bad to the Emperor.
H. King Agrippa wants to investigate this matter so they have a hearing to hear what Paul has to say. Paul addresses his speech to King Agrippa but here in vs. 24 we have Festus interrupting because he can take it no longer.
I. (1 Cor 1:18 NIV) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor 1:23 NIV) but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.
J. This was foolishness to Festus. Festus was a typical Roman in his day. He knew a little bit about his own faith in the gods but even his own faith did not concern him that much. Like many in his day, he regarded all faiths, all religions with contempt, as all equally false, or equally true. All of them unworthy of the time and attention of a great man like Festus.