It’s Just Politics
In the United States judges are sworn in with the following oath: Each justice or judge of the United States shall take the following oath or affirmation before performing the duties of his office: “I, ___ , do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as ___ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”
Lady Justice is blindfolded because bribes, social position, race, or any other factors are not to pervert justice. So if a judge knows for certain that an individual in his court is innocent and that those bringing charges against the accused have no grounds for their claims, the judge must set the accused free. This is how it’s supposed to work, but in the real world this is not always the way things get done in our criminal courts today, or in a Roman court in Caesarea two thousand years ago.
Festus, the new governor, knew the charges against Paul were false. Then why did he suggest another trial back in Jerusalem? Why didn’t he exercise Roman justice and release an innocent Roman citizen?
“Spending time, not more than eight or ten days, among the Jewish leaders, Festus went down to Caesarea. The next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought in. When he arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood before the governor bringing many weighty charges against Paul—charges they were not able to substantiate. Paul answered in his defense, ‘Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the Temple, nor against Caesar have I trespassed in anything.’
Now Festus wanted to do the Jews a favor. So he replied and asked Paul, ‘Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem to face judgment from me concerning these charges against you?’ Paul answered, ‘I stand before the seat of Caesar, the place where I rightfully deserve to be judged. I’ve done nothing against the Jews, as you well know. Therefore, if indeed, I’m guilty and have done anything deserving death, I’m not seeking to escape death, but if there’s nothing in their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.’
Then after conferring with his council, Festus responded, ‘You’ve appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go.’” Acts 25:6-12
The religious leaders haven’t abandoned their plot to ambush Paul, and the installation of a new Roman governor provides a new opportunity to carry out their plan. Festus might be new, but he knew the charges against Paul were unfounded. Instead of simply setting him free, he suggests a change of venue, back to Jerusalem. Why? He’s playing politics. He’s willing to give them Paul, if they will keep the racial tensions in Judea at bay. Paul is simply a pawn in the real politic of Judea only a decade away from the Jewish revolt against Rome.
Facing all the false charges, the rejection by the religious leaders, my former colleagues in Jerusalem, and the political maneuvering by the new Roman governor, I ‘d be tempted to conclude that the Ultimate Judge had forgotten about his child in jail. In fact, his Father was about to use Paul’s appeal to Caesar to make the Romans pay the travel expenses from Caesarea to Rome so that Paul could carry out His purpose to bring the Gospel to Rome (Romans 1:13-15, Acts 19:21, 23:11).
LORD, thanks for Paul’s strong example as he simply continues to clearly state the facts in his case, but also knows when it’s time to throw down his trump card. Help me to be willing to trust that you’re still writing the Story when injustice and violence seems to be carrying the day.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!