Two years Paul sat in prison in Caesarea. Two years, and then the new governor, Festus arrived. A man of action, Festus is off to Jerusalem a mere 3 days after he arrived in Caesarea. Although Caesarea was the capital, Jerusalem was a very important city – the capital of the Jewish nation. And there in Jerusalem, Festus is met by the leading priests and Jewish leaders. After 2 years, they are still thirsty for Paul’s blood.
Luke tells us that they tried to get Festus to do them a “favour” Was this a “do us a favour at the start of your time as governor and we’ll be on your side” kind of thing? The favour? Transfer Paul to Jerusalem. Which sounds reasonable at first – but Luke lets us in on their ulterior motives: they plan to ambush and kill Paul on the way there. Their case, as they clearly knew, could not stack up in a court of law; the only way to silence Paul was to take the law into their own hands.
Fortunately, Festus wasn’t such an easy pushover. He told Paul’s accusers to come and make their accusations in Caesarea when he returned. Which, 8 or 10 days later, they did. But hearing their accusations, Festus concludes that his time is being wasted. As he tells King Agrippa a bit later, “the accusations made against him weren’t any of the crimes I expected. Instead, it was something about their religion and a dead man named Jesus, who Paul insists is alive.” Festus found himself at a loss: how does a court of Roman law delve into such matters. Perhaps, after all, it would be best to let the Jews sort it out for themselves.
But Paul, knowing their plots against him, appeals to Caesar; his right as a Roman citizen. And so to Caesar he goes.
God’s promise to him is coming true. It’s taken two years, but Paul is now definitely destined for Rome.
Lord, help me to be patient as I wait on you. I find that difficult. I want to know you completely now. I want to be like your son now. I want to see my friends and family who don’t know you become your children now. I want my church to grow dramatically now. But in the end, I need to wait on your timing. Help me to do that. And help me to remember – as you have shown time and again – that your promises always come true.