I sat in the dentist chair getting a filling. Through my pain, Dr. Bailey told me about her recent jury duty—eight days long! Eight days without work. Eight days of taking scrupulous notes in order to follow the arguments and render a verdict. She was proud of her service, but glad to be finished. I was glad to get out of that chair.
In today’s text, Paul has been summoned, but not for jury duty. He’s there for another round as the accused. He’s in and out of court, always in trouble for one reason or another. If he’s not in some sort of official predicament, he’s getting shipwrecked, or he’s raising money, or he’s dealing with some new conflict.
Yet here he is, offering up his sacrifice of praise and acknowledging God’s providence and grace, just like the author of Hebrews writes in 13:15. I’m not sure I would start my speech with this opening line: “Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense,” (Acts 24:10) but Paul pulls it off. He knows God is in charge. He trusts that all will be for good, that Jeremiah 29:11-14 still applies— that God has a plan for him and that nothing can separate him from the love of Christ.
What about you? What about me? I often think God abandons me or is distant and uncaring. But I’m likely to do so under far tamer circumstances than those Paul endured—like when I have a big test, or when I have to file an important project, or when I have to have a difficult conversation, or when I have to go to the dentist. I don’t like going through hard things. So, of course, when I do, I feel like God has abandoned me!
For this, I have to admit my weaknesses and lack of faith, and rely on Christ and His riches, His love, and His care for me. Paul displays this, even standing before high priests and governors. Yes, it’s courage. But more than that, it’s Christ. He is our Advocate, our Great High Priest, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He’s our Redeemer, so I can stand with confidence and tell my story—His story.
Written By Doug Serven