After a two-year delay the Apostle Paul was finally seeing progress in his case. Accused by the Jews who wanted to kill him for preaching Jesus, he had invoked his right as a Roman citizen to appeal directly to Caesar himself. In order to clarify the facts of Paul’s case, Governor Festus requested that he testify before King Agrippa and his wife Bernice, members of the Jewish royal family. As Paul stood in the great hall packed with important people, he was not about to waste this chance. He turned the opportunity to defend himself into a personal appeal to Agrippa to be saved.
Paul shared that he was raised and educated in the strict tradition of the Pharisees. In his religious zeal he persecuted the followers of Jesus both in Jerusalem and in foreign cities, arresting them and putting them to death. His “raging fury” (v.11) took him as far as Damascus, where he met Jesus in a blinding flash of glory. The voice of the Lord said, “I am Jesus, and you have been persecuting Me!” Paul surrendered to Him as Lord then and there and was baptized into the fellowship of the church shortly thereafter. Throughout his ministry as a missionary-evangelist, Paul referred to that encounter with Jesus as the start of his new life. Jesus called Paul to be His apostle to the Gentile world, a ministry he had vigorously and faithfully fulfilled (v.15-19).
As Paul was telling his story he was suddenly interrupted by the Governor’s shout (v.24): “Paul, you are crazy!” Paul’s retort was calm and confident (v.25): “I’m not the one who is being unreasonable here; I’m not the one who is acting crazily. I’ve just laid out the truth.” And that truth is what Paul was willing to stake his life on:
The story of Jesus — it was prophesied (v.22-23) that Jesus would suffer and rise from the dead and proclaim light (salvation) to all people. Jesus died on a cross for your sins, Jesus rose from the dead, and Jesus saves!
The way of salvation — Paul proclaimed the only way of salvation: based on what Jesus has done, (v.20) “Repent and turn to God.” And for any person who does that, Jesus will rescue them from the power of Satan, forgive their sins, and give them a place in the family of believers (v.18). Paul offered his own amazing transformation as evidence of the power of the gospel.
The mission of the church — to declare the gospel, beginning where you are and advancing it outward to the ends of the earth (v.20).
Festus thought Paul was crazy for believing those things, and the world may think you are crazy for believing it. The world may think I am crazy for preaching it, but I say with Paul, “I am not crazy! This is the truth!”
What IS crazy is hearing the truth and refusing to believe it. Crazy is entering eternity without a Savior. Crazy is thinking God will make an exception just for you. Crazy is gaining the whole world but losing your soul. No, we are not crazy.
Sometimes television crime dramas end with a poignant courtroom scene — Paul’s is in verses 27-28: “King Agrippa, do you believe?” Agrippa’s reply has been translated in many different ways, but with the same basic meaning: “I hear you, but I’m not buying it.” And he stood up and walked away (v.30).
Paul had proclaimed the gospel truth, but the powerful people in chapters 24-26 rejected the truth with excuses. The excuse of Felix: it’s not a convenient time for me to be saved. The excuse of Festus: I’m not convinced I need to be saved. The excuse of Agrippa: I’m not concerned enough to be saved.