Don’t side with the bullies
Acts 25:9 “Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favour, said to Paul, ‘Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?’”
He changed his mind. The Jews had requested a favour of Festus to have Paul tried in Jerusalem. They had plans to ambush him along the way and kill him. But Festus appeared a strong leader and refused insisting on him being tried in Caesarea. But now it appears he changed his mind and wanted Paul in Jerusalem at the request of the gang who wanted to kill him. Or did he?
Festus knew that with Paul being a Roman citizen there was no way he could be ordered to stand trial in Jerusalem. Paul had rights.
“Wishing to do the Jews a favour …” could be also viewed as “wanting to be seen to do the Jews a favour” and fits his original stance of Paul being tried in Caesarea and not Jerusalem. “At least I tried to get him back to Jerusalem” could be his response to the Jews.
Was this weakness? Maybe it was. Changing one’s mind often appears weak.
Was this wisdom, appearing at least to try to please the Jews? Maybe it was. Solomon appeared to try to please 2 arguing mothers when suggesting a baby be cut in half to be shared. Did Paul know about the plot to kill Paul along the way? Possibly, as Paul seemed to have known.
Was Festus thus a good man? There are too many questions for a morning devotions perhaps.
But what this does suggest is that it is so difficult when caught between 2 opposing minds. Someone is going to be upset with your decision. Who do you choose? Which side do you side with?
Festus decision to give Paul the option, whether he does this purposefully or not, shows us that it is best to fall on the side which least has a hidden agenda to harm. Don’t side with the bullies is the lesson.