“The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.” Acts 22.30
“Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” 4 Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!” 5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’[a]” Acts 23.1-5
At this point in Paul’s ministry career, we might say he found himself in a bind. He was in between the Sadducees and the Pharisees and in front of the whole Jewish assembly of chief priests and the Sanhedrin. As we can read later in Acts 23, he stirred up an argument against the Sadducees and the Pharisees until the Romans were afraid Paul was going to be torn physically apart.
Some would say Paul was between a rock and a hard place. And yet the Lord allowed him to be there. God would say this was an opportunity for his name to be made known. Even when he was struck by the high priest, not knowing it was the high priest, and Paul insulted him, Paul had access to testify to the verify people persecuting him. As modern/comfortable Christians, we might run at this moment, but not Paul, he was well suited to where the Lord had placed him and was testifying to the resurrection of the dead through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Have you ever been in a bind? Wondering how you might get out of it? Have you ever been accused of wrong doing and only the Lord can release you from the accusations? Have you ever felt like there was no way out? Consider this – perhaps the Lord put you there. Or at the least, he allowed you to be there so that you might testify to the goodness of his grace.
Some might say Paul was in a bind but then others would see how God plucked Paul was his evil ways, transformed him into a messenger of his Gospel, and placed him in the centered of Jewish opposition. Some would see how God was using Paul for his purposes. In the same way, whereas you might feel hopeless and discouraged, God is bigger than your problems. He is the solution and wants to use you to give witness to his grace and love.
Later in this chapter, after the Pharisees and Sadducees were arguing about Paul and the Roman’s were forced to intervene and save his life, the Lord comes and meets with Paul while in prison. (Records of the Lord meeting with Paul is a rarity although I assume it happened at other times.) The text says, “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome,” (Acts 23.11).
What wonderful words of reassurance for Paul and for us — “Take courage!” The Lord is near indeed.
“O Lord God, thank you for saving me. Thank you for loving me. In the midst of my despair, I need to find strength to stand strong. I call upon your name and seek you goodness. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your power and love. Help me know the same assurance Paul knew, help me to trust in you every day of my life no matter what. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen