The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they shouted, “Away with this man! He’s not fit to live!” As they were screaming, throwing off their garments, and flinging dust into the air, the commander directed that Paul be taken into the military headquarters. He ordered that Paul be questioned under the whip so that he could find out why they were shouting at him like this. As they were stretching him out and tying him down with straps, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Can you legally whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t been found guilty in court?” When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. He asked, “What are you about to do? This man is a Roman citizen!” The commander went to Paul and demanded, “Tell me! Are you a Roman citizen?” He said, “Yes.” The commander replied, “It cost me a lot of money to buy my citizenship.” Paul said, “I’m a citizen by birth.” At once those who were about to examine him stepped away. The commander was alarmed when he realized he had bound a Roman citizen. The commander still wanted to know the truth about why Paul was being accused by the Jews. Therefore, the next day he ordered the chief priests and the entire Jerusalem Council to assemble. Then he took Paul out of prison and had him stand before them. Paul stared at the council and said, “Brothers, I have lived my life with an altogether clear conscience right up to this very day.” The high priest Ananias ordered those standing beside Paul to strike him in the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is about to strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit and judge me according to the Law, yet disobey the Law by ordering that I be struck.” Those standing near him asked, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?” Paul replied, “Brothers, I wasn’t aware that he was the high priest. It is written, You will not speak evil about a ruler of your people.” Knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, Paul exclaimed in the council, “Brothers, I’m a Pharisee and a descendant of Pharisees. I am on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead!” These words aroused a dispute between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. This is because Sadducees say that there’s no resurrection, angel, or spirit, but Pharisees affirm them all. Council members were shouting loudly. Some Pharisees who were legal experts stood up and insisted forcefully, “We find nothing wrong with this man! What if a spirit or angel has spoken to him?” The dispute became so heated that the commander feared they might tear Paul to pieces. He ordered soldiers to go down and remove him by force from their midst. Then they took him back to the military headquarters. The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Be encouraged! Just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so too you must testify in Rome.” (Acts 22:22—23:11, CEB)
Paul is on trial because of his hope.
Paul was arrested by the Romans to save him from the Jews. It seems that no one at this point likes Paul. Here as we approach the end of the book of Acts and the history that Luke is giving us. The story of a man, crucified and the followers of him scattered across the regions of the world sharing his story when Rome has its christ as Ceaser. The Followers of the Way really were not the victors in the story and yet the gospels and the book of Acts make it sound like they got along with the powers that be, when in reality, Paul was killed by Nero for his preaching of Jesus. We didn’t win and Christians were not held in honor, but Luke paints a picture to allow the books to be seen and heard and the message to continue.
That is hope.
The other day I watched Rogue One, A Star Wars Story. And one of the lines from that movie is “Rebellions are built on Hope.”
Paul was on trial for hope.
The whole followers of the way was built on hope.
Really hope is all we need.
Share your hope!
Loving People. Loving God.