GETTING THE MESSAGE/Paul is accused by the Jews
In this passage, Acts 24:10-21, Paul is on trial before Felix the governor. He responds to the charges made against him by Tertullus, the lawyer representing the Jewish council. He has been accused of sedition, stirring up riots, and desecration of the temple.
He answers the first charge by saying he had only been in Jerusalem for twelve days, hardly enough time to stir up a riot. Furthermore, no one had found him stirring up crowds in the synagogues, the temple, or the city (verse 13). In answer to the second charge, Paul says he was in a state of purification when the Jews seized him in the temple and was in no way desecrating the temple.
What Paul admits to is allegiance to Christ: “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.”
Everybody in the courtroom knew the “Way” referred to followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Paul claims that the Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus. He is the Messiah or Christ promised in the Law and the Prophets, which refers to all the Scriptures. Paul, like the other apostles, testified that Jesus had been raised from the dead, proving that he was the Christ.
The fullest manifestation of the glory of Christ was after his resurrection. To accomplish our salvation, the Lord Jesus veiled his glory and abased himself to suffer for us. When he had fully suffered on the cross and was raised from the dead, his abasement was taken away; he was glorified.
Like Paul, we should see Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures. As Martin Luther said, “The Old Testament promises were swaddling clothes in which Christ was wrapped. We must not think of God outside of Christ. And the Scriptures are full of Christ.”
The Scriptures are full of Christ that we might believe and come to him. Richard Sibbes wrote, “The Scriptures are like the paradise in Eden. Here we have streams of the water of life, Jesus Christ, and here we have the promises of life. There is no angel to guard the entrance to this paradise. Rather, we are beckoned by God to come to it and refresh ourselves. Christ himself is the tree of life.”
It is Christ who fulfilled the first promise of salvation from God, that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the devil (Genesis 3:15). Whatsoever was promised in the prophets was fulfilled in Christ. Take away Christ and what is the ark, the brazen serpent, the Passover Lamb, or many other symbols? It is plain they teach us about him.
The kings, priests, and prophets of the Old Testament were all types of Christ. The sacrifices pointed to Christ. The whole Jewish ceremonial law pointed to Christ. The Tabernacle and the Temple aimed at Christ. The moral law was given to show us our sin and drive us to Christ.
Christ makes all the promises of salvation wonderful. In Isaiah 42, the Lord says, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights.” Behold Christ the Lord. Behold him because God appointed him to be the remedy to sin, misery, death, and the devil.
Who is Jesus? He is the servant of God and man. The greatest work required the greatest servant. So God sent his only begotten Son, the eternal, glorious Son to be conceived in a virgin’s womb and take a low position of a servant. He came from the highest heights to the lowest abasement, even to suffer the wrath of God for us all.
How blessed are they who listen to God when he says, “Behold my Servant.” To look at Christ, to come to Christ and embrace him is worth more than the whole world. Are you sinful? Here is forgiveness and righteousness. Are you afraid of death? Here is life everlasting. Are you dejected or distressed? Here is comfort. Do you want to know joy? Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Can one dishonor God more by slighting or ignoring so great a gift in so great a Savior? On the other hand, can one honor God more than by believing the gospel and loving Christ? If you believe, you set your seal that God is true and that Christ is worthy of all glory and honor from you.