Festus: The Scoffer

David Bast

Read: Acts 25:1-22

Paul, you are out of your mind. (Acts 26:24)

After Felix moved on, a new governor arrived in Caesarea. Now Paul became Festus’ problem. For some reason that Festus couldn’t quite figure out, the Jews in Jerusalem were still wanting to kill Paul. “They had certain points of dispute . . . about their own religion,” explains Festus to King Agrippa, a local prince making a courtesy call on the new governor, “about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive” (v. 19). Unlike Felix, Festus didn’t know much about Christianity, but he sure got this right. That is indeed what it’s all about—it’s about a dead man who is alive!

When Paul was invited to explain his views, he took the opportunity once more to gain a hearing for the gospel. Instead of focusing on his personal innocence, Paul focused on the cross and resurrection—an evangelistic sermon complete with an invitation to believe.

As Paul fearlessly preaches the resurrection, Festus interrupts with an outburst, “Paul, you’ve gone mad! Your study has driven you insane!” To this pragmatic Roman politician, taking God seriously enough to believe that he would come in the flesh, die for humanity, and then rise again from the dead was evidence of an unbalanced mind. But Paul was neither crazy nor a wild fanatic: “I am speaking true and rational words” (v. 25). If Jesus is God, it’s not crazy to believe he rose from the dead. If he rose from the dead, it’s not crazy to believe in God. —David Bast

Prayer: Jesus, I worship you today, my risen and reigning Lord!