Intro: Just to give a bit of background and context for our lesson, Luke lets his readers know Paul has suffered greatly because of Christ’s call to share the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul has traveled to many of the countries north of the Mediterranean Sea. He has shared God’s story of redemption through personal testimony, preaching, and even by giving a defense to those in authority ready to destroy him.
In our passage today, the Apostle Paul is in prison. He stands before King Agrippa [of Jewish descent], along with other military and political leaders. Paul is invited to present his case against the charges waged by the Jewish community who are calling for his death. King Agrippa’s great-grandfather tried to kill Jesus when he was a baby. The King’s grandfather had John the Baptist beheaded. The King’s father had martyred the apostle James. Yet, Paul sees this whole situation through the lens of faith in God’s love and redemption. Paul knows this is a great opportunity to share the Gospel of Christ with the highest officials in the land. Knowing all these facts, would you be inclined to see the opportunity or the problem?
The Apostle Paul did not complain about the situation in which he found himself; rather, he joyfully seized the opportunity to present the Good News about Christ even though it came through opposition. Paul knows it is useless to fight against the will of the Lord; he only finds power in obedience [26:14]. God can work through any and all opposition if we are willing to stand in those places as faithful witnesses. A Christian is a person who has chosen to be a part of God’s plan to reach the world through God’s love and share about his mercy and forgiveness offered in Christ. God has given us the Holy Spirit who makes us more loyal to Christ and less worried about the problems and opposition. We must use our faith to call for the Holy Spirit’s power to share in the work of Christ.
Acts 26:9-18 (NLT)
9 “I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. 10 Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. 11 Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse [blaspheme] Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities.
12 “One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. 13 About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. 14 We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,[Hebrew] ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’
15 “‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked. “And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future. 17 And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles 18 to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’
Prayer: Father, help me to see each day through the lens of opportunity for sharing the Gospel. If I am not working with you in such a way, Lord, I may find myself fighting against your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.