My heart burst with excitement as I watched it happen on TV! God was at work! It was impossible to escape the passion of the speaker. Neither I, nor those held hostage in his presence, could change the situation in order to avoid the gospel.
In the book of Acts we read of a similar situation. A man impassioned by his relationship with Jesus Christ gave it all he had. Paul was brought as a prisoner before several heads of state in succession, to defend himself as a Roman citizen against charges of corruption which could amount to treason against Caesar. He was not afraid, or if he feared anything it was the spiritual state of these leaders, whom he knew would one day stand before God.
Bound in chains Paul testified before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. When a plot against his life was discovered, Paul was quickly spirited away to Caesarea to testify before Felix, the Roman procurator of Judea. Two years went by and Paul still waited. Now Festus was in charge, Paul was required to make his defense once again. Herod Agrippa 2, great-grandson of Herod the Great, and his wife Bernice travelled to Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. They had heard about the drama of Paul’s conviction and asked to hear him, so Paul was brought in.
Was this a terrible trial to Paul? No! Grasping the opportunity, Paul talked about his faith. He told Felix: “I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way” (Acts 24:14). Felix was married to a Jewess and listened to Paul as he spoke about faith in Jesus Christ. Perhaps Felix remembered Jesus had said “I am The Way…”? (John 14:6). Finally Felix had heard enough; gripped by fear he told Paul to stop.
Paul had not been so polite to the High Priest in Jerusalem to whom he said “God will strike you, you white-washed wall! You sit there to judge me…yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck” (Acts 23:3).
Great pomp and ceremony took place as the King swept into a courtroom filled with high-ranking officers and politicians (Acts 25:23). At the outset, Paul told the crowd he considered himself fortunate to stand before these officials who were so well acquainted with Jewish customs (Acts 26:3). His message was filled with hope, but he did not fail to mention repentance in his preaching (26:20) and drew to their attention Christ was the fulfillment of prophecy (26:22-23). King Agrippa countered with the question “Do you think in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (26:28).
Two thousand years later at a royal wedding where heads of state mingled with the intelligentsia of the day, a preacher joyfully presented Christ’s claim to love the whole world, for which He died! I was reminded of Paul. Though visibly in chains, his spirit was free. These people, centuries later, were held hostage by another man whose spirit had been set free by God! Bold? Yes! A man with a holy mission vindicated our Sovereign God, whose love reaches down to free all nations. King of Kings!
Excitement fills the air when we see God’s hand at work! Imagine yourself being used by God to deliver, with holy boldness, the message of His love. What can we possibly fear? Jesus warned “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Are you a prisoner of God’s love? What is it that holds you hostage today?