Bible Reading: Acts 26
Acts 26:24-25, “And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.’ But Paul said, ‘I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.’”
In an upside-down world, it’s quite possible that anyone might be deemed crazy for siding with God and His truth. That’s what happened to Paul when he stood before King Agrippa.
Paul’s defense before King Agrippa was notable for its focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul had experienced a remarkable transformation traceable exclusively to Christ’s intervention in his life. He shared his testimony with King Agrippa—how he had done “many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9), and how he “locked up many of the saints in prison” (Acts 26:10), and how he had “cast his vote against them” when they were put to death (Acts 26:10). He “punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them (he) persecuted them even to foreign cities” (26:11).
Something happened in Paul’s life to bring about a radical change. What was it? Jesus met him as he “journeyed to “Damascus,” on his way to persecute Christians (Acts 26:12).” He saw “a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around (him)” (Acts 26:13). Jesus met him there—in the place of his sin, depravity, and lostness. Paul was confronted by the very One he was persecuting. Jesus saved Paul and set him on a fresh course. Jesus then commissioned him to go to the Gentiles “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).
The gospel worked that change in Paul. That message both transformed him and unleashed in him a loving regard and compassion for others. There is power in the gospel to save (Romans 1:16). Before King Agrippa, Paul both demonstrated and declared that truth (Acts 26:23).
Festus heard Paul’s defense before King Agrippa and said in a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind” (Acts 26:24). They say such things to this day. The message of the cross is “folly to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). People ignore it, mock it, laugh at it—but for those who believe, it represents “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). There can be no salvation apart from it. By its power, sinners are delivered from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to the power of God. Paul himself had experienced such a deliverance through the powerful-to-save gospel.
These are words of sober truth. Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Sin is insanity. It is insanity to live a life of sin and expect no judgment in condemnation by one’s Creator. The “let’s eat and drink for tomorrow we die” approach to life is insanity (1 Corinthians 15:32). Festus was living such a life, King Agrippa and Bernice were, too. They were blinded to the truth and enslaved to sin and Satan.
Paul addressed King Agrippa directly, asking, “King Agrippa, do you believe in the prophets? I know that you believe” (Acts 26:27). And thus, Paul turned the tables on their investigation. They had met to investigate Paul in his troubles, but Paul made it into an evangelistic endeavor. “And Agrippa said to Paul, ‘In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian’” (Acts 26:28)? Paul’s response? “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains” (Acts 26:32). They thought Paul to be crazy, but before them stood ample evidence of the power of God to save! Some might deem you crazy for your faith and devotion to Jesus, but He has instead worked to make a beautiful change in you!
Sin is insanity. The gospel alone can work to renew our minds and transform our lives.
Once I was lost in sin’s degradation,
Jesus came down to bring me salvation,
Lifted me up from sorrow and shame,
Now I belong to Him