Slick Presentations and Lies
A few short years ago old, stodgy, seasoned business executives drove Lincoln Continentals. Not now. Lincoln says their sales are up since Matthew McConaughey made even riding in the back seat look trendy.
Will I instantly be as good looking as this academy award winning actor the second I settle into the back seat of my new Continental? Of course not, but who cares in the world of advertising where appeals to pride, vanity, and our right to indulge our success is not a sin. It’s the game.
Now it’s one thing to use all this apple-polishing, wheel-greasing flattery to sell cars. It’s another thing to use it to get an innocent man imprisoned and killed.
Five days after the Apostle Paul’s night ride from Jerusalem to Caesarea, it was showdown time in the Roman governor’s court. Tertullus is the hired legal gun representing the high priest and the Jewish elders, and right from the start he unleashes his rhetorical skills as the prosecution gets to go first in this preliminary hearing.
“After five days the high priest, Ananias, came down with some elders, and a certain Tertullus, a prosecuting attorney. They placed before the governor the accusations against Paul. When Tertullus was called, he began to press the charges against Paul. ‘Because of your foresight great peace and reform have come to be through you. Everywhere and in every way we recognize this and thank you for it, O most Excellent Felix. But in order not to take up any more of your time, I beg you in your graciousness to hear our brief statement. For we have found this man to be a plague, generating insurrection among all the Jews throughout the Roman Empire. He’s a ringleader in the sect of the Nazoreans, and he even tried to desecrate the temple, but we seized him. By examining him yourself you will be able to discover from him about all these accusations we are bringing against him.’
And the Jews joined in the attack claiming that it was just as Tertullus was saying.” Acts 24:1-9
Darrell Bock summarizes Tertullus’ case: Paul is (1) a pest, (2) a political agitator, (3) the leader of a sectarian movement, and (4) one who tried to be disruptive at the temple. (Acts, Baker Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament Loc 16844). But we can run a fact check on each of these charges.
Luke has traced Paul’s career from his encounter with the risen Jesus in Acts 9 to the present. Examining the historical facts, was Paul the “pest” who stirred up the crowds? What about the Roman officials in both Philippi and in Ephesus who have already publicly ruled that Paul was not an insurrectionist, and was no threat to the Pax Romana? Even in Claudius Lysias’s letter to the governor, the false charges are rejected.
The Jewish leaders have a legitimate argument with Paul over the interpretation of their Scriptures and whether or not they lead to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah. This debate continues right up into the present, but no one should be thrown in jail, whipped, or executed because of which side they take in this debate.
Freedom of religion is rooted in the fact that God Himself doesn’t force us to believe. We each have the right to decide for ourselves. In AD 57 Tertullus and the Jewish religious leaders are lying in court.
It’s one thing to use this appeal to vanity to sell a Lincoln. It’s another thing when it’s used to try and get an innocent man tried and executed in court.
LORD, help me to apply Luke’s emphasis on the importance of careful investigation, to uncover what actually happened, and to not fall victim to flowery rhetoric. Help me to beware of the smooth talking “Tertullus’” trying to persuade my views and decisions.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!