Paul stood before the highest government leaders of the land once again. You see, he had been arrested more than two years ago because of his faith in Jesus Christ. He had been tried but was then tucked away in a dark, corner cell, held without formal charge; neglected, left, and forgotten. After two years, I’m sure he was tired, worn out, and physically emaciated; a first century, Middle Eastern jail is far different than our American prison. And although he may have had all sorts of reasons to not fully “show up” in the court room that day, he was ready, once again, to give an answer for his hope. I wonder, what kind of man remains fully present, right-minded, and full of faith in such a moment? What kept him strong in his trial? Why didn’t he just quit?
I believe his incredible endurance was tied into the very reason he was on trial; it was because of his unfading hope in Jesus Christ. Paul’s hope was unwavering, firm, and resolute. It was a hope that came from his core. You see, Paul’s hope was based on a first-hand experience with Jesus. His hope was not built upon what his parents told him about Jesus, or what he had heard from one of the apostles, or even read out of an obscure book. No, read a little further into the chapter and Paul clearly tells how Jesus met him, changed him, and filled him with real hope; that’s what Jesus does when we invite him into our lives.
In a world without enduring hope, Jesus remains the anchor in the heart and mind of every one of his followers. I challenge you to take some time to day to do one of the following:
1. If you are without hope, turn to Jesus. Ask him to forgive you of your sin, choose to follow him, and watch him fill you with hope.
2. Recall how Jesus rescued your life. When did you finally surrender to him? What were the circumstances? How has he changed you? Take some time to genuinely thank God for his work in your life.
3. Tell someone your story today. Follow Paul’s example of how he told the court. Share 1) what you were like before you followed Jesus, 2) the when, where, and how you surrendered your life to him, and 3) how Jesus has changed you. Others will be impacted by your hope.