Paul has been accused by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. To protect Paul from a lynching, the Roman commander decides to send him away from Jerusalem to Caesarea for protection. The commander…
…called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix. Acts 23: 23-24 NIV
Check out the protection Paul got! He had once again pulled his “I’m a Roman citizen” card and the officials didn’t want any missteps as they handled him…
What struck me about this passage was the parallel with Jesus. Here the Jewish leaders – the same High Priest – want Paul dead. And the Romans are scratching their heads wondering why. In his letter of explanation to Governor Felix, the commander writes:
I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. vs. 29-30a
Jesus was handed off from Governor Pilate to King Herod then back to Pilate. Paul is handed off from a local commander to Governor Felix and installed in King Herod’s Palace.
In both cases, the Roman officials can’t discern what these men have done to deserve death.
As Paul was being shuttled from Roman official to Roman official, noting their confusion about the accusations leveled against him, did he remember what Jesus went through before the Cross? Did he marvel to be sharing in Jesus’ experience in some small way?
This all reminds me what Paul said in his letter to the Philippians:
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. 3: 10
Certainly Paul shared in Jesus’ sufferings.
How do I share in Jesus’ sufferings? I realized recently that in marriage, God calls me to unconditionally serve someone who daily sins against me. He calls all spouses to do this! And in doing so, we share in Jesus’ service to us and His suffering for us – for we daily sin against Him who loves us unconditionally.
One thing I know – when Paul talks about this participation, this sharing in Jesus’ sufferings, it’s a GOOD thing! It’s something that helps him to know Jesus better, to draw closer to Him.
If that’s the case, bring it on!
Today’s Readings: Ezra 7:1-8:36, Psalm 88:1-2, Proverbs 21:22-22, Acts 23:23-35. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).