Today’s Reading: Acts 26-28
Today’s Reflection: Acts 26:27-28 (NKJV)
27) King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” 28) Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
After appealing to Caesar to hear his defence against the accusations of the Pharisees and Saducees, King Agrippa II asks to hear from Paul for himself. Paul is brought before the king, and as he completes his compelling story and makes his case, Paul appeals to Agrippa’s own convicitions. Why would Paul think such a strategy would work with a Roman official?
Agrippa II was not any normal Roman procurator. He was the great-grandson of King Herod the great, and the last of his line to rule as a king. As such he was a born Jew, and nominally followed the Jewish religion, even retaining authority over the Temple at Jerusalem and responsibility for appointing the High Priest. Agrippa was also educated in the courts of the Roman Emporor, trained in Roman ways, and largely ruled over Gentile regions. He was essentially a Roman in Jewish garment (and would become largely regarded as a wolf in sheep’s clothing to his Jewish bretheren).
Despite all this, Paul knew Agrippa would be familiar with the writings of the Jewish scriptures and appealled to his understanding. As he repeatedly linked the writings of the prophets with the ministry of Jesus, afirming that this was the Messiah, the Christ of which they wrote, the King sensed that Paul was trying to lead him to conversion. And why not? Agrippa had come to the conclusion that Paul had not violated any law and was not deserving of imprisonment or death. Essentially he says he believed Paul’s testimony, and the point of Paul’s testimony was that Jesus was in fact the Messiah. So Agrippa made the statement, “You persuade me to become a Christian”.
Wait, that’s not quite what he said, is it? There was an “almost” in there, wasn’t there? That almost is one of the saddest things a minister can ever hear. It’s even sadder for God.
So what was stopping Agrippa from becoming a Christian? Why the almost? Other translations of these texts suggest that Agrippa felt he needed more time. How could he make such a radical change so quickly? And yet Paul’s own testimony—of being on his way to persecute Christians one moment, and being ready to follow Jesus the next—shows that this could easily be the case. IF one were willling to obey when convicted. And at this point, Agrippa was just not willing.
The Holy Spirit works to convict us with truth, and when we receive truth we’re expected to act on it.
John 16:13 – When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
When we recognize light, as Agrippa clearly did, we’re expected to embrace it and live by it.
John 12:36 – While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
But if we refuse to accept what has been revealed to us, we take a mighty risk. We are accountable for what we know to be true. And if we put off accepting the truth because it is inconvenient for us, there is no guarantee that we’ll have another chance.
When we are convicted we may have reasons why we choose not move forward in faith and belief, but we don’t have any excuse.
2 Corinthians 6:1-2 – 1) Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2) For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.