now when some days had passed, agrippa the king and bernice arrived at caesarea and greeted festus. and as they stayed there many days, festus laid paul’s case before the king, saying, “there is a man left prisoner by felix, and when i was at jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. i answered them that it was not the custom of the romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him. so when they came together here, i made no delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. when the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as i supposed. [acts 25:13-18]


 the family of the herodian dynasty has been intimately connected to the christians followers: agrippa, bernice (and drusilla) are all the children of herod agrippa, who put james to death and imprisoned peter [acts 12:1-5].  herod agrippa’s grandfather (“the great”) puts all the children under two to death in matthew 2, and their relatives (herod antipas, herod phillip, herodias) are responsible for the events that culminated in the beheading of john the baptist. 


these children agrippa, bernice, drusilla aren’t afraid of, or repulsed by the threat imposed by these new followers of ‘the way’, instead, they openly let paul give his testimony, letting many hear the gospel: and as he speaks to these VIPs, paul would have been aware of the words of Jesus in the sermon on the mount:


 “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


 “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.


 “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.


 “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.


 “blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.


 “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.


 “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.


“blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


“blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [matthew 5:3-12]


focusing on the last two ‘blesseds’; paul would have known that his journey here, the court of agrippa and bernice was not a curse, but a blessing–that even though the accusations are false, paul can rejoice knowing his reward is great in the kingdom of God. 


like paul, we are also a part of a great drama–we may not be brought before kings, presidents or the supreme court justices, but when history is written, could it be said of us that we were blessed by God because of the injustices that we received at the hands of evil men?  if we are speaking the name of Jesus, we will be accused of being intolerant, legalistic, or just stupid.  we may be passed over for promotions–or could even lose our livelihoods. as our country leans into polytheism, pantheism and paganism, we could even be imprisoned for our beliefs–will we rejoice and be glad like paul in that day? let us rejoice today in the presence of the Lord, and not be shaken by what is happening around us–we have hope in a mighty God who is sovereign and who saves!