Some thoughts on Acts 25
Festus takes over from Felix as the new Procurator over the Roman province of Judea and finds that Felix left a prisoner named Paul for him to deal with. The problem is that Festus has no idea what to do with Paul. The charges against him didn’t make any sense because he wasn’t being charged for having violated any Roman law. All the accusations had to do with Jewish religious customs and regulations. So Festus asks Paul whether he’d be willing to go to Jerusalem (from Caesarea where he was currently being held) to stand trial against the religious charges. Knowing the Jews simply wanted him in their custody so they could kill him, Paul refused and instead exercised his right as a Roman citizen and appealed to the Emperor.
I’m wondering why Paul didn’t simply demand to be released instead of appealing to Caesar. Felix had held him for over 2 years – without substantial charges to hold him. Festus had no real grounds upon which to continue keeping Paul in custody. He’d violated no Roman law; his “offenses” were simply social and religious. Festus is now between a rock and a hard place. Paul had to be sent to the Emperor, but Festus doesn’t want to look like a fool to the Emperor so he has to figure out what crime Paul has committed, and over which Caesar must now judge.
This seems to be a great illustration, showing that real truth can be confusing when people are judging by relative standards. Both Festus and Felix before him were responding to social pressure, trying to satisfy the “desires of the people,” but couldn’t see what was really right because of the wrong demands of the broken humans they were trying to pacify. Isn’t that the way it is with our society and culture today? People demand justice, equity and fairness. But what is the standard against which they measure? When is right really right? And when is fair really fair? The bottom line and the real question is, “what is the truth in the matter?”
If something is true, it is always true, no matter the context or the parameters within which the issue is confined. Truth is equally true for me as it is for you. If “your truth” disagrees with “my truth,” one (or possibly both) of them simply isn’t true . . . Because truth is always true for all people at all times. Otherwise it couldn’t be “truth.” It seems really simple, but in practice it can become incredibly complicated by the different voices clamoring to be heard.
Let’s not allow culture to define truth. There needs to be a standard against which a thing is measured as being true or not true. What is your standard? Is it your own relative, subjective, limited opinion? Is it another person’s? There must be a higher standard than simply any person – or group of people’s opinion. For me, it is the Word of God, embodied in the Holy Bible; Old and New Testaments.