Day 145: Saying “No” to Injustice

Acts 25:1-12 :

Festus therefore, having come into the province, after three days went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. Then the high priest and the principal men of the Jews informed him against Paul, and they begged him, asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem; plotting to kill him on the way. However Festus answered that Paul should be kept in custody at Caesarea, and that he himself was about to depart shortly. “Let them therefore,” said he, “that are in power among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong in the man, let them accuse him.”

When he had stayed among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day he sat on the judgment seat, and commanded Paul to be brought. When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing against him many and grievous charges which they could not prove, while he said in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar, have I sinned at all.”

But Festus, desiring to gain favor with the Jews, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem, and be judged by me there concerning these things?”

But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also know very well. For if I have done wrong, and have committed anything worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die; but if none of those things is true that they accuse me of, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar!”

Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you shall go.”

Jesus was appointed to die for our sins and because that is why He came, He was quiet before those who arrested Him, beat Him, mocked Him, and killed Him. We should be careful not to think that allowing people to misuse us is the way that God intends for us to live. Paul didn’t act the same way here. I think it is important for us to think about how Paul reacted when he was being mistreated.

Rather than simply “turning the other cheek,” Paul makes it very clear that he was willing to die if it was for something that he deserved. He was not willing to die if he was innocent. The concept of “turning the other cheek” can become a convenient thing for those who wish to harm Christians. Paul demonstrates that there are limitations to “turning the other cheek” for those of us who live in this age of Grace.

Notice how injustice can thrive in a self-focused, political setting. Instead of making sure that he judged correctly, Festus wanted to impress the Jews. A courageous leader is willing to risk himself in order to do what is right as both Jesus and Paul showed us. Paul was well aware of the injustice taking place at this point because he accuses Festus of it directly. Christians are not passive. They take action and they do what is right even though it isn’t popular because that is what they really believe. We are to fear God not mankind. Clearly, Paul’s courage was much greater than all of the others in this passage because he wasn’t afraid to face the governor and appeal to the emperor! That’s the kind of courage the Holy Spirit can give us too if we trust in Him.