26 Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and proceeded to make his defense:
2 “In regard to all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that I am about to make my defense before you today; 3 especially because you are an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews; therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
Just some background that is hinted at here but not immediately obvious. Agrippa is the great grandson of Herod the Great. Herod the Great was both Jewish and Roman. He was the king who built/greatly improved the temple in Jerusalem. He was also the king who killed all the male babies in Bethlehem trying to eliminate the threat of a new king when Jesus was born.
The historian Josephus tells us the King Agrippa Paul is speaking to was in charge of appointing the Jewish High Priest. He was also the custodian of the temple treasury. Are you starting to see and appreciate the complex political web of power and the high potential for corruption? When money, power, politics, and religion are involved the stakes are high. When Paul addressed King Agrippa as an expert in all things Jewish he was not kidding. He knew more about back room deals etc... than most Jews knew. He also knew how things were supposed to work since in Judaism appearances were everything.
It's an interesting loop that Paul has been passed around. First the Christian Jews had him. Then the Jewish leadership who were anything but Christian. From there the Romans had him, first Felix and now Festus. Festus has brought him before Agrippa which closes the loop because Agrippa has close ties to every player in the whole situation. For this reason Paul subtly yet openly declares he is thankful to stand before someone who very much "gets it".
The intriguing part is what will Paul say to a man so likely hardened into the religio/political game into which he was born and raised? We'll find out tomorrow...
For now consider this:
In spite of all the different people in your life and the different views and circles they represent you are just you. Like Paul you stand alone in the midst of a swirling world full of both competing and complicit groups. Paul has chosen his place to stand. He was born into the very group that is leading the charge to end his life. He loves them but he does not stand with them any more. He has made his own choice. He is his own man regardless of what the power brokers around him choose to do or not do.
What any out you? Are you another invisible face occupying space in the circle into which you were born or have you decided for yourself where you will stand? Who do you serve? Money? Power? Religion? Yourself? Or like Paul have you found the One who is truly worthy? The One worth suffering and even dying for?
There is no greater love than this: that a man lays down his life for his friends. That man has a name: Jesus