Psalm 35-36 Acts 25
“They stood up and accused him, but not of any serious crime as I thought they would. The things they said were about their own religion and about a man named Jesus who died. But Paul said that he is still alive.” (Acts 25:18-19 NCV)
Festus was making rounds of the area he would deal with as governor. When he got to Jerusalem, the Jewish leaders still wanted Paul dead and they asked him to sentence Paul immediately. Festus told them to cool their jets because Roman Law don’t work that way. He had the right to face his accusers and defend himself. When the leaders got to Caesarea, he made time for them right away, and then he was really confused: this wasn’t a major issue, in his eyes, this was a religious dispute over a man named Jesus whom the religious leaders said had died, but Paul claimed he was still alive. In this pivotal moment, Festus asked Paul if he’d be willing to go back to Jerusalem to stand trial, but Paul took advantage of his Roman citizenship to appeal to Caesar. This gave Festus another problem: he had to send Paul to Rome to face Caesar, but he wasn’t sure what to charge him with.
That sums up the point of contention between Christianity and the rest of the world. The world thinks that our religion is about a man named Jesus who died, but who we say is still alive. Some in the world would deny that Jesus existed. The Jewish leaders of that time didn’t deny His existence. The Romans didn’t. Their contention was that Jesus died. In that, they were right. Jesus died on the cross. He suffered that cruel death and was laid in a tomb. In fact, Christians agree on this subject. Jesus died. What makes us different is that we believe that Jesus rose again. It’s a fantastic, unbelievable claim to many because dead is dead. There’s no escape from death. Only, the early apostles saw Jesus after His crucifixion – alive. He broke bread with them. He continued teaching. They saw Him ascend into heaven. They were willing to die for their belief that Jesus really was alive. You can’t believe in Jesus without believing in the actual, physical resurrection of Jesus. And I can’t imagine believing in the actual, physical resurrection of Jesus and not becoming a Christian. Oh, some pay lip service and think it’s nice for people to have religion. Christianity isn’t about “religion.” It’s about a relationship with the risen Savior. Let’s face it, either the Resurrection is true, and it should change your life as you follow Jesus, or it’s not true and we, as Paul said, are of all men most to be pitied. There is no halfway belief in Jesus.
Lord, it all comes down to the Resurrection. Thank You that Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. Thank You for changing the world. Use me as You continue to change the world so that others may follow You.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved