1Three days after Festus arrived in Caesarea to take over his new responsibilities, he left for Jerusalem, 2where the leading priests and other Jewish leaders met with him and made their accusations against Paul. 3They asked Festus as a favor to transfer Paul to Jerusalem (planning to ambush and kill him on the way).4But Festus replied that Paul was at Caesarea and he himself would be returning there soon. 5So he said, “Those of you in authority can return with me. If Paul has done anything wrong, you can make your accusations.”
6About eight or ten days later Festus returned to Caesarea, and on the following day he took his seat in court and ordered that Paul be brought in. 7When Paul arrived, the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem gathered around and made many serious accusations they couldn’t prove.
8Paul denied the charges. “I am not guilty of any crime against the Jewish laws or the Temple or the Roman government,” he said.
9Then Festus, wanting to please the Jews, asked him, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there?”
10But Paul replied, “No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty of harming the Jews. 11If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar!”
12Festus conferred with his advisers and then replied, “Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you will go!”
Earlier in Acts Paul told several churches that he planned to go to Rome. Well, it sounds like he is going to Rome! Be careful what you wish for, right? This whole process seems very strange to us. Can you imagine someone accused of a crime actually expecting an audience with the President? Paul was a Roman citizen, and the Jews weren’t happy to just have him in prison, they wanted him dead…and God was in control.
But the real lesson here is that our best plans don’t really matter so much. If God calls us, and we have proven to be humble followers, he will change and control our days to accomplish his will in his way and in his time. Paul is witnessing to people and making Jesus known on a path he didn’t choose and to people he didn’t seek…all the way to his death. He is fighting for his life to be sure, but never denying the living Lord Jesus.
Lord, help me to accept the twist and turns of life and to live for you all along this twisted and turning road. You choose the way and the people, help me to just keep choosing you.