In a city spiritual leaders are supposed to be the moral backbone of the community, but when they become the movers and shakers in plots to murder innocent victims, the moral fiber of a community is cut. One of my biggest disappointments has been to discover that some of the spiritual leaders I respected turned out to use lies and power plays to maintain their positions and to move out of the way those who challenged them. None of this should have surprised me.
In his Gospel Luke exposed that it was the religious leaders in Jerusalem who plotted and eventually pulled off the murder of Jesus (Lk. 19:47). More than twenty years later these same groups sought to squash the growing influence of the Jesus movement by plotting to ambush and kill the Apostle Paul.
“Now when he had set foot in the province, after three days, Festus went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. The chief priests and the prominent Jewish leaders brought charges against Paul. They urged Festus, appealing to his favor, to have the man sent to Jerusalem, planning to ambush and do away with him on the way. Festus replied that Paul would be kept in Caesarea where he himself would return shortly. ‘So,’ the governor replied, ‘Those among you with the power come down to Caesarea and if there is anything wrong in this man, bring your charges against him.’” Acts 25:1-5
The religious leaders in Jerusalem thought they could take advantage of the new governor. Surely he wouldn’t know about their previous attempt under Felix to take Paul out in Jerusalem. But Festus was smart enough to know what they were up to and kept Paul safe in Caesarea. He isn’t strong enough, however, to release the innocent man. In Monday’s Devo we will discover that Paul will have to face another onslaught of accusations in court from his enemies.
LORD, protect me from disillusionment when so-called spiritual leaders turn out to be on the wrong side of truth, justice, and love. Thanks that Luke is teaching me through Paul’s experience that when it looks like the false religionists are winning, they’re not.
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