Acts Chapter 23

I imagine the scene of Paul at the Sanhedrin surrounded by a large group of Sadducees and Pharisees must have been a bit overwhelming for him because at first, he seems friendly calling them "My Brothers",  but then he went to a place of trying to justify himself in their sight by saying "I have fulfilled my duty to GOD in all good conscience to this day". He was brought by the commander to face those accusing him and it didn't go the way he expected.  He was assaulted in a place that he thought he would be treated better.  This was his nation of people and he expected to be treated with fair and equal justice like we have today.......Innocent until proven Guilty.

A riot was created when he said "I stand on trial because of my hopes in the resurrection of the dead" which riled up the two parties who had differing views about the existence of the afterlife.

So the Commander had him taken safely away for his own protection, but can you imagine how Paul must have felt that night?  He was probably sitting in his protective room thinking "What just happened?" He had this opportunity to preach to a large crowd who generally were in agreement in their united opposition against Jesus and with all that went down, he pretty much blew the chances to preach to them the Gospel that he was so committed to spreading by creating a diversion,  angering the two parties and thereby essentially saving himself that night from being "torn to pieces" because the Commander ordered him to be removed before things escalated.

I wonder what Paul must have been thinking about that night after he was whisked away to safety to those barracks?  I know when I miss opportunity after opportunity to spread the Good News of Jesus by standing firm in my faith and belief that GOD will be by my side no matter the circumstances, I feel as if I've let him down.  And then one begins to have self doubt about not being worthy of GOD's love because of being weak in the moment.  It's an awful feeling of shame when that weakness takes over, but in Paul's case, even if he was feeling that way in his darkest hour, Jesus appeared before him and said "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome".  What an encouraging thing to happen after he thought he had let Jesus down!

What I was left with after reading this chapter is that even though Paul may have thought he was alone in the barracks that night feeling so isolated and ashamed and by himself...... he wasn't alone.  Jesus came to him where he the middle of what was basically a jail cell. Isn't it interesting how we so many times pray to our loving GOD to release us from our circumstances (like being in a jail cell) when all he wants, is to meet us IN the circumstance. We often times think we are surrendering to GOD when really, we are only looking for an escape....for him to help us escape the circumstance, but more than anything, what GOD wants, is to meet us in middle of what we are facing.  Our surrender to him is far more pleasing to him than to escape the circumstance which we think will solve everything because ultimately, GOD knows that if we believe in his promise that all will be well for those who love GOD because he will always protect us, no matter what.  He knows what is best for us and we can find comfort in knowing that his promise will sustain us.