“Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, ‘Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?’ Paul answered: ‘I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!’” (Acts 25:9-11 NIV84)
So, what’s behind this appeal to Caesar? Was Paul concerned about going back to Jerusalem because there were people there wanting to assassinate him? Logical deduction! But I don’t think so. Paul had already said that he was ready and willing to die for his faith. So, if he was not doing it to avoid some kind of trouble in Jerusalem, then why didn’t he go back to his home city and defend the faith till the end? One simple reason — he was being obedient to God’s Word. Jesus had visited him one night in jail and assured him that nothing would happen to him until he got the opportunity to defend the faith in Rome. Paul used this open question (door) by Festus to fulfill God’s plan for his life.
In order to properly recognize the door Festus opened for him, Paul had to be first committed to following God’s Word no matter what. Second, he had to be discerning enough to see God’s hand opening the door in the midst of the pressures of everyday life. Last, he had to be willing to move toward the unknown (Rome), rather than the very familiar (Jerusalem). But in the end it was all about obedience. God called Paul, and He calls you and me, to obey His Word so His will might be accomplished in us and for His kingdom.
Today, may our appeal be to be obedient to that which God has called us.