As we know from reading in Acts before and after these first twenty three verses of chapter twenty six, Paul had been arrested in Jerusalem for following and proclaiming Jesus. As a Roman citizen, he had been transferred to Caesarea for a formal hearing – first before Felix, the Roman-appointed governor of Judea, and then before Festus, successor to Felix. (Paul was in custody here for some time, totally at the whim of the governor for pursuance of his case.)
Festus decided to transfer Paul to Caesar for a hearing of his case, as Paul the Roman citizen had requested. Before he sent Paul on to Rome, Festus decided to have Paul speak before Agrippa, Jewish king in Judea, who was visiting Festus. Not one to refuse an opportunity to tell another person about Jesus – not even high political authorities – Paul passionately explained to Agrippa, Festus, and others in attendance why he devotedly served and proclaimed Jesus as savior and lord.
What Paul testified to was a life totally turned around by Jesus. From determined enemy to Jesus and Jesus-followers to ardent disciple of Jesus and brother to fellow believers, Paul “died” to one life and “was raised” to a new life. This he knew in the very core of his being – in all that gave him identity, purpose, and direction in life. This he proclaimed to Felix, Festus, Agrippa, and all he could reach. Jesus was life to Paul. Paul wanted to live this Jesus-life fully. He wanted to pass this life on to any and all, so stupendously worthy did he find Jesus and this new Jesus-life to be.
I am heartened by reading Paul’s testimony to his turned-around life. I am heartened because I tend to underestimate – or is it under-trust, and perhaps even under-desire? – what Jesus can do and longs to do to transform my life. If Jesus could do what he did with Paul, surely he can and will change me. How good this would be! May he knock me down, then, and pick me up anew, as he did to Paul. I need only say “Amen!” to Jesus, to turned-around life in him.