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God’s Word for You

Acts 25:13-21 Some dead man named Jesus

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, February 9, 2021

13 A few days later King Agrippa arrived at Caesarea with Bernice to pay their respects to Festus. 14 Since they were going to stay there for many days, Festus discussed Paul’s case with the king.

In the military they like to say, “Hurry up and wait.” Once a decision is made, then there is almost always a period of waiting while circumstances change or transportation is arranged or for the weather to cooperate. Paul was heading for Caesar, but then King Herod showed up. Herod and his sister Bernice were the brother and sister of Felix’s wife, Drusilla.

He said: “There is a man here who was left as a prisoner by Felix. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned. 16 I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over anyone before he has faced his accusers and has had an opportunity to defend himself against their charges. 17 When they came here with me, I did not delay. The next day I took my seat in the court and ordered the man to be brought in. 18 When his accusers got up to speak, they did not bring any charges against him for any of the crimes I had expected.

Festus shares the issues with Herod. The tangled web of Jewish politics was something that Herod would understand and appreciate. Maybe he would have a suggestion or a special insight that Festus had missed?

19 Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about some dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. 20 I was at a loss how to investigate these matters, so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges. 21 When Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”

Unlike Felix, Festus was not acquainted with the Way, the Christian faith. He summarized the issue as he sees it as being about “a dead man named Jesus who Paul claims was alive” (verse 19). Festus couldn’t imagine a dead man carrying such devotion that his followers would claim he was still alive. He hadn’t heard of Jesus at all. He used the indefinite pronoun tinos which I have translated “some,” since including the pronoun at all is unnecessary for the sentence and Festus betrays a more formal Greek style with the way he speaks.

The doctrine of the resurrection is the whole point of our faith. When we share our faith, it is the resurrection that sets us apart from all other religions. God does not teach a reincarnation into a lower animal (even the Sadducees seemed to believe something like that). He teaches that we will rise from the dead in the body we have here on earth (Job 19:25). “I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another” (Job 19:26). When Abraham talked about his son Isaac coming back to life from the dead, he did not say “A zombie and I will come back” or “A bird or a dog or some other animal and I will come back.” He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5). This was while he was planning to obey God to sacrifice the boy; he assumed that God would then bring Isaac back to life in order to keep the promises God had made about the Savior coming through Isaac’s line.

We know that God will raise us from the dead (1 Corinthians 6:14). We also know that our bodies will be transformed, perfected, so that all our defects are done away with. Our bodies “will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21), we will be imperishable and we will become immortal through Christ (1 Corinthians 15:33). We should not hide this as a teaching that embarrasses us, or something we’re not sure anyone wants to hear. Not at all! This is exactly what makes someone unacquainted with our faith sit up and take notice. A chance to never die? A life without end? Where do I sign up? “I will glorify your name forever!” (Psalm 86:12). This is how we share our faith, and from there it’s a simple step to explain just what “some dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive” has done.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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