On Trial | Sidebard

Pastor Miles DeBenedictis

Acts 24:22-27

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“Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, he answered: ‘Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do more cheerfully answer for myself, because you may ascertain that it was no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship.  And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting a crowd, neither in the synagogues nor in the city.  Nor can they prove the things which they now accuse me of.  But this I confess, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the Law and the Prophets.  I have hope in God, which they themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.  This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

‘Now after many years I came up to bring alms and offerings to my nation, in the midst of which some of the Jews of Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult.  And they ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me.  Or else those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council, unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, “Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.’

“But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, ‘When Lysias the commander, there in Jerusalem, comes down, I will make a decision on your case.’  And so he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty, and he told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for him or visit him.

“And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and he heard him concerning the faith in Christ.  Now as Paul reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and he answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.’  Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given to him by Paul, that he might release him.  And therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.

“But after two years Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.”

Lord, as we stand here today, we ask that You would direct us, just, Jesus, as You promised that You would do, that You would give the Spirit of truth who would guide us in all truth and teach us all things.  Lord, we accept that Your Word is useful, that it is useful for doctrine and reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that we who are Your people would be readied for good works, the good things that You prepared beforehand that we should walk in.  So, God, as we stand here today, as we sit to study Your Word, in a moment, would You, by Your Spirit, and by Your living Word, transform us.  Lord, make it possible that we would be able to be bright, shining lights in a dark world, as we go about our week this week.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  And all God’s people agreed, saying, “Amen.”

You can be seated.

“But when Felix,” Verse 22, Acts 24, “But when Felix heard these things” – the testimony that Paul now brings and gives before him there in Caesarea, in about the year 58 AD.  When Felix heard these things, after hearing from the Jewish leaders, the high priest, from the Sanhedrin, from their chief council – a very good orator – after he hears from them, and hears from Paul, it says, “he had a more accurate knowledge of the Way, and so he adjourned the proceedings and he said, ‘When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.’”

Paul, in Verse 14, as he was giving his declaration before the governor, Felix, there, he acknowledged, he even confesses, and in a courtroom scenario, when the defendant stands up and says, “I confess,” you can be certain that everybody in the room went, “Oh, what’s he going to say?”  And so he says there, “I confess that according to the Way which they call a sect, in Judaism, I worship the God of my fathers.”  Many early Christians, especially in Judea, acknowledged or at least professed that they were followers of the Way.  We believe, in some way, that that was connected to the words that Jesus spoke in John Chapter 14, Verse 6, when He said to His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by Me.”  The Jewish individuals of the city of Jerusalem, of the region of Judea, they labeled them Nazarenes, they said they were followers of Jesus of Nazareth.  And yet, Paul and other apostles, other followers of Jesus, they said, “We are followers of the Way, according to the Way, which they call a sect.  So, I worship the God of my fathers.”

And Felix, when he heard this, it says he had a more accurate knowledge of the Way, and so he adjourned the proceedings.  Which is interesting, and it causes some questions to come to mind, because how did Felix, this Roman man – history tells us he was a Roman freed man, which means he was formerly a slave, and somehow, because of something he did, he and his twin brother were freed.  And not only were they freed, but they were given a position.  Perhaps as slaves they served in some capacity within the Roman empire, and they earned a name for themselves, to the point that he was set free and he changed his name.  His name was not originally Felix, but here this Roman former slave, set free, now becomes the governor of the region of Judea – a pretty phenomenal story, if you ask me – he changes his name to Felix.  And there, as he’s in that region of Judea, he began to be the governor in about AD 52.  He served from AD 52 until right around AD 58 to 60, somewhere during that time, historians don’t know for certain.  But here this Roman former slave had an accurate knowledge of the Way, had an accurate knowledge of these things having to do with Jesus of Nazareth and those who followed Him, saying, “We are followers of the Way.”  The New Living Translation translates it this way:  “Felix, who was quite familiar with the Way,” and you wonder:  “How did this Roman former slave, now governor of Judea, become quite familiar with the Way?”  Somehow, in some way, he knew a substantial amount about the things of Jesus of Nazareth, about the followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

Maybe it had something to do with his wife Drusilla, who we are told here in this passage, was a Jewish woman.  History has some things to say about Felix and Drusilla, some very interesting things that we’ll consider as we go through this text today.  But one of the key things that we can note about this woman, Drusilla, who, at this point in time, was in her early 20s, if maybe 20 years old, but she was the daughter of King Herod Agrippa I.  Now, that may not seem like much to you, if you’re not a student of the Bible, but King Herod is someone that we know much about.  In fact, there were many King Herods – the family of Herod continued to rule in Judea for a very long time.  But Drusilla was the daughter of King Herod Agrippa I.  Now, he’s mentioned in the Book of Acts; he’s actually mentioned in Acts Chapter 12.  In fact, turn there, if you will, because he had a very interesting happening take place in Acts Chapter 12, beginning in Verse 1.  Acts Chapter 12, Verse 1 tells us that this man, Herod, Drusilla’s father, when she was only 6 years old – this was about the year 44 AD, and she was born in 38 AD – so when she was 6 years old, she was in Jerusalem with her family, and her father, King Herod Agrippa I, well, we’re told there in Acts Chapter 12, Verse 1 that he began to harass some that were in the church.  Not only did he harass the church, the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, those who were followers of the Way, but it says in Verse 2 that he went so far as to take hold of James the brother of John.  You know, James and John, fishermen from Galilee, their father was Zebedee.  They were in close relationship with Jesus; they were part of Jesus’ core group – Peter, James, and John.  And so there in Jerusalem, King Herod, at some point he lays hands on James, and it says that he had him put to death with the sword.  “And when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further.”  Get the picture:  There in Jerusalem, Drusilla is 6 years old, her father is there as the king over that region of Judea, and there’s a group of people within Judaism, followers of Jesus of Nazareth, proclaimers of the Way, and one of them is this guy by the name of James, who apparently was a thorn in the side of Herod.  So he takes hold of him and has him killed, and then the people that he was ruling really liked that.  In fact, it polled really well.  This was a politically good thing for him to do.  And so he goes, “Wow!  If I kill these followers of the Way, the people that I’m ruling like me better.”  And so, he decided to proceed further, and now he seizes Peter – Peter, the apparent leader of this group of people, the followers and proclaimers of the Way there in Jerusalem.  Drusilla’s 6 years old; she was privy to these sort of things.

Well, he captures Peter, and he puts him in prison, and there, Acts Chapter 12 tells us that in the middle of the night, while Peter was bound in prison, that an angel of God showed up and actually had to poke him and wake him up, “Hey, Peter, wake up.”

And Peter wakes up, and the angel says, “Come on, we’re out of here.”  God miraculously springs Peter from jail.  And after he gets sprung from that cell, he goes into hiding, Acts Chapter 12 tells us.

Well, the next morning, when Herod sent for word to try and bring Peter, he was probably going to have some very public execution because this polled really well, word comes back to him and says, “Hey, Peter’s gone.”  And so Herod’s so mad he sends a search party to try and find Peter; they can’t find him, and so he brings the guards who were watching over him, and he has them publicly executed because they didn’t do a very good job.  And then Acts Chapter 12 tells us that Herod went back down to his seacoast home, down in Caesarea.  (If you go with us to Jerusalem, we’re going in 2015, if you go with us, we go to the ruins of Herod’s palace in that area of Caesarea – absolutely beautiful.)  And so he goes back down, and Acts 12 goes on to say that on a certain day after those events, after he killed James, after he began to harass the Christians, after he sought to persecute Peter, on a certain day he put on his royal garb, his good-looking clothes, and he went out before the people of Caesarea, and he sits down to give a great speech.  And they’re all there anticipating this speech, and while he’s sitting before them, they are chanting, “It’s the voice of a god and not a man.”  And in that moment, the Bible says that an angel from heaven came down and struck him, and he died; he died not long after that moment.  He died for blaspheming God.  He died for harassing the church of Jesus Christ.  He died for persecuting those followers of the Way.

I wonder how that must have impacted or affected young, 6-year-old Drusilla?  You see, she some knowledge of the Way.  She knew something about these things.

So, on this day, a number of years later, 14 years later, when she’s married to Felix, now the governor of Judea, the Roman governor of Judea.  Maybe it was that Felix came home after a long day at work, and walks in the door, and Drusilla say, “How was work today, dear?”

“Well, you know, same old, same old.  You know, the high priest came down from Jerusalem with some of the members of the Sanhedrin.  They came again.  They’ve got some guy that they’ve got a problem with.  His name is Saul of Tarsus.  He’s one of those followers of the Way.  You know, that old thing you used to tell me about.”

“Really?  Follower of the Way, you say.  I think I’d like to hear from him.”

And so we’re told here in this passage of Scripture that on a certain day, not many days after that, Felix called Paul in for a private hearing, a sidebar, if you will.  It’s not a part of the normal proceedings of this hearing.  It has nothing to do with what he’s got being charged against him by the Jewish Sanhedrin.  But he wanted to know more about the Way.  Point Number 1 on your sermon guide, if you have it handy there in your bulletin:

You Can Be Acquainted With The Way And Not Know The Way – Capital WAY

You can be well acquainted with, familiar with the Way and not actually know the Way.  You can have family members that are followers of Jesus, you can even attend a church and hear teaching on the Scriptures; you can be contented and satisfied with your understanding, your knowledge of these things, and yet not actually know the Way.  Because, you see, the Way is not just a body of information, the Way is not just a thing, the Way is a Person.  In John Chapter 14, Verse 6, Jesus said, “I am the way.  I am the way.”  You can know followers of Jesus, you can know how they live and what they believe, you can have some sayings of Jesus even filed away in your memory banks.  You can have even, maybe, an accurate picture of some of the things that took place in His life.  But, at the end of the day, that’s not sufficient.  You can know all of those things and yet not know HIM.  Felix didn’t know Jesus.  He knew about Him, but he didn’t know Jesus.

But he apparently felt comfortable with his knowledge about these things.  So, “He commanded,” Verse 23 says, of Acts 24, “He commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty.”  So Paul could go in and out of the Roman Pretorium there that was in Caesarea.  He had access to leave, but he was not allowed to leave, apparently, was not allowed to leave the city of Caesarea, because his trial still stands.  He had one of them 1st Century ankle bracelets on to make sure that, you know…  No, they didn’t have that.  But, he couldn’t leave Caesarea, but his friends, his co-laborers, his companions, they were given the opportunity to come and visit him and provide for him.

But Felix was comfortable, he was happy with his familiarity with the Way.  Interesting, his name – Felix – the name that he chose for himself after he was set free as a former slave, Felix means happy.  So you could literally call him Mr. Happy.  And Mr. Happy was happy with his position.  And so he commanded this follower of the Way, Paul, to just be held loosely, at liberty, there, until, “Maybe I hear from the commander, Lysias.  I want him to come down and share with me.”  Apparently Lysias never came down to share with this man, with Felix about his view of what was happening with Saul of Tarsus, Paul the Apostle, while he was in Jerusalem.

But, “After some days,” Verse 24, “when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and he heard him,” notice this, “he heard him concerning the faith of Jesus.”  “He heard him concerning the faith of Jesus.”

And so Felix and Drusilla said, “You know, we know some things about the Way, but we’d like to hear what this guy has to say about it.  We want to hear what he has to say about this faith – that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.   That’s what the followers of the Way are saying.  And so we sure would love to hear what he has to say privately.”  And so they gather together, and as they gather together, they sit Paul down – perhaps it was in their own home, maybe it was just Felix and Drusilla and Paul, perhaps some of Paul’s companions, like Luke, the author of the Book of Acts was there.  We know that he was with Paul while he was there in Caesarea.  Maybe Timothy.  And so there they are, you can see it maybe in your own mind, as I do, as they’re gathered together.  Not a formal courtroom hearing, but just seated in their Roman home there in the city of Caesarea to speak about the faith of Jesus.

And they say, “Paul, we don’t want to hear about the case.  We don’t want to hear what happened there in Jerusalem.   We want to hear about this Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth that you believe is the Messiah.”

And so Paul answers.  Verse 25, look at this:  “Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment that is to come.”  The perfect three-point sermon.  “As he reasoned with them” – the Greek word “reasoned” there is dialegomai; it’s where we get our word dialog.  So, as he sits down, and he speaks back and forth with these two individuals – Drusilla, a Jewish young lady who, history tells us, was ravishingly beautiful, and a former Roman slave who had come up through the ranks to become the governor of Judea.  And Paul sits there speaking with these two, these two who had an interest in the things of the Way.

It seems like the perfect opportunity:  “We want you to share with us about the faith of Jesus Christ.”

And Paul says, “Okay.  I want to talk with you; I want to dialog with you about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment that is to come.”  You know, light dinner conversation – Righteousness, self-control, and the judgment that is to come.  In fact, we’re further told in Acts 24:26, just a few verses later, that this was not a one-time meeting.  It seems that Felix heard from Paul a number of times over the next two years.  He conversed with him often, even though his motive in conversing with him was not pure, it was not the best.  He wanted to try and solicit a bribe from the Apostle Paul, that he might release him.  You know, “Give me some money and I’ll let you go.”  Which was Felix’s normal way of leadership there in Judea.  But this was the first meeting of many that would come over the next two-year period, as Paul just sat in limbo, waiting in the Pretorium there in the Roman city of Judea called Caesarea.

And so Paul and Felix and Drusilla sit down to speak about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment that is to come.  “Felix, I know you’d like to hear about Jesus of Nazareth, but I’d like to talk to you for a moment about righteousness.”

Now, Felix and Drusilla were not righteous people.  The reality is that’s not saying much, because, as we sit here today, none of us are.  We know from Romans Chapter 3, Verse 10, a verse that Paul penned just a short time before he would have sat with Drusilla and Felix.  It says, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”  We all have fallen short of the glory of God.  We all have sinned.  And so, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”  But for this couple that was sitting before Paul, it was manifestly evident that they were not righteous.

How so?  Well, again, history helps us here.  Drusilla was Felix’s second wife.  She became his wife when she was only about 15 years old, and he was in his early 40s.  The talk of the town, no doubt.  And Felix was not Drusilla’s first husband; she had a husband before she married Felix.  She was married at a young age to someone who, apparently, she didn’t have a great relationship with, and so at 15 years old, she leaves her husband, after this man, Felix, who was so captivated by her amazing beauty.  After he found a way to seduce her, using a magician from the island of Cyprus, by the name of Simon.  And so, he brought her into his home, and Simon seduced her to leave her husband, a Jewish man, to marry a pagan governor of Rome.  And she did.

And so, now here, a number of years later – they married in about 53 AD – now, this is about 58 or 59 AD, when these things are happening there in the city of Caesarea.  They’ve been married for a period of time.  She’s now in her very early 20s, and there they sit before Paul.  And he says, “I want to talk about righteousness.  I want to talk about doing the right thing.   Not just doing the right thing, I want to talk about self-control, which, apparently, you guys are lacking in.”

Don’t you just love the Apostle Paul?  I mean, he just goes right for it here.  Every single one of us sitting here today have had an experience similar to this before.  Maybe it’s with a family member, a co-worker, a neighbor, someone that we’re sitting down having a meal with, someone that we know is living in an open, immoral lifestyle.  And yet, as we’re sitting with them, and the elephant in the room is their sin, the elephant in the room is their unrighteousness, their lack of self-control, and yet we’re so tempted to tip-toe around it.  “Oh, isn’t the weather so nice today?”  We all can identify with this in some way.

Not the Apostle Paul.  He went right for it.  “Yep, I know that you guys are the talk of the town.  Yes, I know, Felix, you seduced this young, beautiful lady to be your wife, to leave her husband.  I know you’re an adulterer.  I recognize that you’re cruel in your leadership, cavalier in your personality, and carnal in your morality.  I recognize that’s the case, so, as we sit down today, and you want me to tell you a little bit about Jesus, let me start just a few pages before the whole story about Jesus coming and dying on a cross, and let’s talk about righteousness.  Let’s talk about self-control.  Let’s talk about the coming judgment.”

Previous to this event, Felix had heard the prisoner Paul standing before him just a few days before, as he declared to Felix, the chief priest, the Sanhedrin, and their chief orator, their chief councilor, Tertullus, as Paul stands there and says, “These people that are trying me, these people that are accusing me, we believe the same thing, we accept that there will be a resurrection,” Acts 24, Verse 15, “there will be a resurrection of the dead.  There’s coming a day when all of us will die, but there will be something that comes after that, a resurrection of,” Paul says, “the just and the unjust, the righteous and the unrighteous.  There will come that day.  This being so,” Paul says, Verse 16 of Acts Chapter 24, “because I believe that there is coming a day when the just and the unjust will stand before God, after this life, this being so, I, myself, always strive to have a conscience that is pure before God and men.”

You know, when Paul said those words there in that room, the religious leaders – the chief priest, the Sanhedrin – probably every single one of them went, “Yeah, we believe in the coming resurrection; we have a pure conscience before men as well.”  Religiously, they lived a good life.  But for that Roman governor sitting on the seat there in Cy…, Cy…, uh, whatever that city was, Caesarea, when Paul said, “I strive to live with a pure conscience before God and men,” that man sitting there had no pure conscience whatsoever.

And now Paul sits down with him a few days later, and he says, “I want to talk with you about righteousness.  I want to talk with you about self-control.  And I want to talk with you about the fact that there is a coming judgment.  There is a day coming where the just and the unjust will appear before God.”  Essentially saying to this man, “Are you ready for that?”

But Felix and Drusilla, they knew nothing about these things – righteousness and self-control.  And if we’re honest today, if we’re willing to accurately look at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word, we would say that we also are lacking in the area of righteousness and self-control.  You see, apart from God, we would have no righteousness.  Apart from Him working in us, we would have no self-control, because the Bible says that you and I, as Christians, followers of Jesus, have been clothed in a righteousness that is not our own.  We could not stand before God in our own good works because we would be obliterated for our sinfulness.  And yet, Jesus, 2 Corinthians 5 tells us, “Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in Christ.”  As we’re clothed in Him, we have His righteousness upon us.  So, if we look at ourselves introspectively, or in the mirror of God’s Word, we’d have to say that we don’t have any righteousness, and so we trust in and hope in His righteousness accounted to us.  From the earliest time, we have seen that that has been the case, because back in Genesis Chapter 15, Verse 6, it said, “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Well, not just righteousness, but self-control.  The fact is none of us here, in and of ourselves, in our fallen state, have any self-control.  We are at the total whim of all of our bodily desires and appetites, always led about, slave to those things.  Paul says in the Book of Romans, “And if it were not for the work of the Spirit of God in our lives, we’d have no self-control.”  How do we know?  Well, Galatians 5 says one of the fruits of the Spirit, one of the evidences of God’s Spirit being in us is self-control.

And so Paul says to Felix, he says to Drusilla, “I want to talk with you about righteousness; I want to talk with you about self-control; because I need to talk with you about the coming judgment.  Point Number 2 on your outline:

You Can Hear The Truth Of The Word And Not Know The Word Of Truth

You can hear the truth of the Word and not know the Word of truth.  John’s Gospel informs us in the opening verses, John Chapter 1, Verses 1 through 4, that Jesus is the Word of God.  He is the Logos of God.  In John Chapter 1, Verse 14 it says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, as of the only begotten of the Father.”

Not only is Jesus the Word, but John Chapter 14, Verse 6 says, “He is the way and the truth.”  So, you can know about these things that are written in the Bible; you can even hear them preached week in and week out, as Felix did, because he had an expert preacher by the name of Paul the Apostle, the guy who wrote Romans, the guy who wrote Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, go down the list.  The guy who wrote all of these was Felix’s personal pastor for two years.  And so you can know and hear the truth, but never come to an actual relationship and experiential knowledge of the Word and truth that is Jesus.

And so Paul sat down with Felix and Drusilla, and he wraps up the truth about righteousness and self-control.  And he puts a beautiful bow on top of it about the judgment that is to come.  And what was Felix’s response?  What was his reaction?

Well, look at it there, if you will, again, it says, “Felix was afraid.”  “Felix was afraid, and he answered, ‘Go away for now.  Go away for now, and when I have a convenient time I will call for you.’”  Which teaches us, Point Number 3 on your outline:

You Can Be Afraid Of God And Not Fear The Lord

You can be afraid of God and not fear the Lord.  You know, the fact is there’s a lot of people in churches all over this nation, all throughout the world, who are afraid of God.  In fact, that’s one of the reasons that causes them, compels them to want to go to church.  They feel, “If I go to church, maybe I’ll appease Him so that, on that day when I stand before Him, everything will be okay because I’m afraid to stand before a holy God.”  81% of Americans, as I said last week, and a couple of weeks before that, 81% of Americans polled in 2003, said “We believe that there is some life after this.  We believe in something called the resurrection.”  And many of those 81% of Americans that say they believe in those things are actually afraid of God.  And as Paul talked about the coming Day of Judgment, Felix, a former slave that had pulled himself up to great privilege and position, yet a carnal man, a man who lacked righteousness and self-control, when he hears about the coming judgment that will come in the next life, this judge, he’s afraid.  And yet, his fear did not compel him to bend the knee in reverence toward the Lord Jesus Christ.  And so, you can be afraid of God and not fear the Lord.  And so he says to Paul, “Go away, and when I have a convenient time, I’ll call for you to finish this hearing.”

And so Paul is taken from the proceeding.  You see, Number 4 on your outline:

You Can Be The Judge Of A Nation, But You Will One Day Be Judged

You can be the judge of a nation, but you will one day be judged.  And when we stand before God, on that Day of Judgment, our privileged position in this life will matter very little.  You can be in an awesome position, you can have actually moved through the ranks of success, from being at the bottom of the barrel as a slave in the Roman Empire to being the top as the governor of Judea, there among the Roman Empire, and yet, on the Day of Christ Jesus, when you stand before Him, even if you had that position your entire life, that will be meaningless.

And so, here Felix, the judge of the nation of the Jews there in region of Judea, having power and authority over them – at his word, one’s life could be taken from him – he hears from Paul, a representative of the Judge of judges, he hears from Paul, giving testimony about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment, and he’s fearful.  And so he says to Paul, “Go away; when I have a convenient time I’ll call for you.”

As far as we can tell from both the Scriptures and from history, a convenient time never came for Felix or for Drusilla.  In fact, we’re told in the last verse of this chapter that Paul was kept as a captive there in Caesarea for two years, until Felix was replaced by Festus, another governor who would come.  And Paul, in our next passage of Scripture, will appear before Festus.  But we’re not told the details of that.  The details are actually filled in by secular history, which tells us that the Roman Emperor, Nero, had heard so much bad news about this guy Felix, and his terrible leadership over Judea, that about two years after his initial meeting with the Apostle Paul, he was removed from his post, he was recalled to Rome to stand trial before Nero, an earthly judge.

And so we’re told in the last verse that he didn’t release Paul because he wanted to procure the favor of the Jews.  Why did he want to do that?  Well, he knew that he had treated those Jews of Judea in a terrible way, and now he’s going to stand before the Roman Emperor, Nero, and he’s hoping that maybe he’ll get a good testimony from these guys that he didn’t rule so well for about eight years.  And so he says, “Well, I’ll just, it’s politically good for me to keep Paul in prison, even though he’s done nothing wrong.”

A convenient time never came for his wife Drusilla.  Almost exactly 20 years after this meeting with the Apostle Paul, where he sat and spoke about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment, secular history records that this woman, Drusilla, in her 40s now, 20 years after this event, was at a gala in an Italian city with her son.  It was there, in August of 79 AD, we know the exact date – August 24th – that Drusilla was one of only three individuals that is given a name, that was in the city of Pompeii on the day that a rumbling was felt, and a great volcano called Mount Vesuvius let loose.  And she, with hundreds of other people, were encapsulated in this pyroclastic blast of ash and super-heated gas, and frozen in time.  You can see the pictures of the casts that they’ve made of the people that are frozen.  Anybody ever see the pictures of the frozen casts from there in Pompeii?  One of those is Drusilla – literally.  A convenient time never came.

But there, for a period of time, she and her husband had a private meeting with the apostle who penned the Gospel of grace – the Book of Romans.  And yet, it seems as though they only stopped at fear of God, afraid of standing before Him one day, and never really had a chance to do what they ought to have done.  You see, we’re not always presented with convenient times.  There are plenty of people that go to churches, and they never really bend the knee to the lordship of Jesus Christ, and they’re looking for maybe a future time.  “I’m not quite ready yet.  I’ll wait for a convenient time.”  But the convenient time never comes.  And this story challenges us with four important realities:

– We can be well acquainted with the Way, we can know a lot about the Bible, and yet never know Jesus.

– Secondly, we can hear the truth of the Word of God, week in and week out, from an expert orator like Paul – I’m not equating myself to him.  But we can hear it constantly preached to us, and yet never fully come to the place where we know the Word of truth – Jesus Christ.

– We can be afraid of God, and never bend the knee in reverence toward Him, acknowledging Him as Lord.

– And number four, we can hold a privileged position in this life, and yet that won’t matter much on the Day of Judgment.

I realize, this is not your typical Mother’s Day message.  [laughter]  But I think it’s an important thing for us to hear, because perhaps today you realize that you don’t actually know the way, the truth, and the life.  You know about it.  You might have even memorized that verse.  But the words that proceed that, where Jesus tells His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled,” you would say today, “My heart is troubled.”

But Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions, were it not so, I would have told you.  But I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go, I will return one day to receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

And one of His disciples said, “Lord, we don’t know what You’re talking about.  Where are You going?”

And He goes, “You know where I’m going, and you know the way.”

And Thomas said, “We don’t know the way.”

And He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  And no one comes to the Father but by Me.”

Perhaps you would say today that you know about these things, but you don’t Him, you don’t know Jesus.  Maybe you would confess that you’re afraid to stand before God as Judge one day, but you have not yet bent the knee to the lordship of Jesus Christ.  Might I encourage you to do what Drusilla and Felix apparently never did, on this day, on this day.

I’m going to ask Rich and the worship band to come back up.  I’m going to ask you to stand with me as we close in prayer, and close with a song.  And I’m going to ask that maybe you think for just a moment, “Have I bent the knee to the lordship of Jesus Christ?  Or am I just afraid to one day meet Him?”  It just may be that today is your convenient time.  Let’s pray.

Father, we thank You, we thank You for the opportunity to come before Your Word, Your Word which is living and powerful and it cuts deep, it reveals the thoughts and the intents of our heart, maybe things that we don’t expose to other people, Your Word reveals, it lays those things bare and open before You, the One who we will one day give an account to.  And so, Lord, I pray as we stand here, if there’s anyone that’s in that place that they realize and acknowledge for the first time that they know about who You are, but they don’t know You, they’ve never entered into a relationship with You, they’ve never asked You to be their Lord.   Would You draw them by Your Spirit?

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