Then he [the commander] called two of his centurions and ordered them, "Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix." He wrote a letter as follows: Claudius Lysias, To His Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings. This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.
Thoughts for Today:Do you think the Roman commander acted appropriately? There are some who read our passage today and believe the commander shirked his responsibility by "punting" Paul to Governor Felix rather than deal with it himself.
According to Roman law, Paul had done nothing wrong to deserve death or imprisonment so Commander Lysias had two choices: release Paul and then be forced into a confrontation with the Jews when they attempted to murder a Roman citizen; or protect Paul by immediately moving him to Caesarea and the authority of Governor Felix while insuring his safety with a great contingent of men ("two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen"). What would you have done?
This whole scenario got me to thinking about my own life and some decisions I need to make about a very difficult problem. If I were to "punt" some of those decisions, who could I "punt" to? Who could even help me? My wife? A business associate? My attorney or accountant? The pastor of my church? What does the Bible say about my situation? Interestingly enough, I know what the Bible says. I'm just having trouble doing it. I read once that truth was absolute and everything else was a rationalization or justification for why we didn't follow truth.
I talked over my problem with a very good friend of mine who is also a great Christian business man. From his perspective there was no complexity to my problem at all. I simply had to follow Scriptural instruction and let the "cards fall where they may." A passage came to mind from James1:23, "Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at himself in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." [Thanks Hal.]
Questions to Ponder:In our passage today, Commander Lysias had a difficult problem: What was he going to do with Paul? Fortunately, he could transfer that decision/problem to the Roman Governor Felix. It's not always so easy in our own lives when we come up against difficult or seemingly complex problems. I will challenge you today to look at whatever decision you must make and ask yourself: What does Scripture say? What decisions do you need to "punt" to the Word? Will you do it?