Heart pounding. Mind racing. Paul stands in front of hundreds of people who will decide whether he is innocent or guilty of his accusations. I’m sure even Paul had fear in that moment with such an uncertain future ahead of him.
In Acts 23, Paul was face to face with his accusers and a council that didn’t have any sympathy for him. Sometimes I find myself reading the bible and placing a lot of the people on pedestals because of the life they lived for Christ. If we really dive into the word, you can start to see that these people are just as human as we are. Let’s look at Paul as an example.
So Paul is up in front of this council getting accused of many things that aren’t wrong in the eyes of God. The first thing he chooses to say is, “ Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” He is pleading his case, trying to help them understand that he sees nothing wrong in what he is doing…because there is nothing wrong in what he is doing. Instantly the high priest orders Paul to be struck, not just anywhere, on the mouth.
I imagine myself in his shoes. I am wrongfully being charged and I want to keep this civil so I start off with a calm statement of my innocence and then BAM! I get punched right in the jaw. Growing up with four brothers has, I would say negatively, gifted me with having the ability of not thinking before swinging. In this situation, it would have been my natural reaction to swing back or tackle the guy if I got hit like that. As we keep reading we can see that Paul reacts in a similar action(He responds in anger and frustration) and that makes him just as human as you and I. Paul says, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall!” He didn’t punch the guy, but his words are powerful because they have the authority of Christ behind them. I can also imagine that he isn’t saying that in a friendly tone either. Though he was angry and probably wanted to punch the guy back, he knew that God was the ultimate judge and would take care of it in his timing and grace.
The rest of the chapter goes into the plot to kill Paul by 40 men who have sworn to not eat or drink until Paul is dead. This story has always been interesting to me because there has been nothing, so far, in my life that I have hated enough to give up eating and drinking until that thing is dead. The hatred towards God and his people just amazes me sometimes as I read through the bible.
Chapter 23 ends with Paul getting sent to Rome secretly to avoid being ambushed by the 40 men so that he can await trial there. Remember that even though there are men and women in the bible, they were sinners just like us. Don’t put these people on pedestals but learn from their actions as you go through similar situations in your life.