You know what they say, “Excuses are like arm-pits ‘everybody’s got a couple – and most of them stink.'” Growing up I had an excuse for everything! I even got to the point in my life that I was starting to get annoyed with my own excuses. You know; things like:
- A messy desk means I’m creative.
- I sleep in because doctors say you need eight hours of sleep!
- I can spend all my money because I earned it.
- I don’t need to go to church, I go to chapel twice a week!
Life is filled with excuses, some good, some mostly bad, but at some point in time the excuses will run out.
Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT) 21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
In my opinion this passage of scripture is one of the scariest in all the Bible. I tend to be a person that would rather grace someone to the kingdom, verses guilt, but this passage does something different than guilt. This passage exposes one of the possible many excuses people will use on judgement day. Again, not to be an alarmist (okay, maybe I am an alarmist), but the reality is… there will be a judgement day.
The Festus Excuse
Like I said yesterday in my reflection, Acts 25-26 should ultimately be read together, so in order to get a clearer look at the Festus Excuse, I need to cheat and go back to Acts 25:
“…and a dead man named Jesus…” When reading this section I literally had to stop and remind myself that many people in the Roman world wouldn’t have believed what Paul told them about Jesus’ resurrection. Fast forward to Festus’ outburst during the trial:
Acts 26:24 (NLT) 24 Suddenly, Festus shouted, “Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!”
Festus heard enough! I can only imagine him sitting this whole time looking around with an expression of, “are you believing this?” on his face.
In many ways, Festus didn’t have time to look into the claims of Paul for himself; hence the necessity to call in King Agrippa, the so called expert on everything Jewish. Like I read in a commentary, “Festus is typical of many today-inteligent, logical, practical, and cynical (Life Application Commentary, pg. 428).”
It’s impressive to recognize again that Paul kept his head in all situations. His response is not directed back at Festus, but instead Paul address King Agrippa directly and challenges him to take a stand, one way or another. Paul knew that if Agrippa didn’t believe the prophets he would lose credibility with the Jews; but if Agrippa said he did believe, then Paul, being an outstanding defender of faith (Greek: apologeomai or Apologist) would lead Agrippa to believe the claims about Jesus. But Agrippa says, not so fast.
Acts 26:28-29 (NLT) 28 Agrippa interrupted him. “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?” 29 Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.”
Understand the room to be filled with excuse that day, Paul lands the plane on a single and profound thought. Basically, Paul says, Listen, whether I can convince you to be a Christian or not is irrelevant, what doesn’t change is my hope that you, and everyone else in here would understand the significance of Jesus death and resurrection.
And this too should be our response to the excuses of the world around us. No matter if you do; or if you don’t, I hope you will.