Paul was still in jail in Caesarea, and two full years had passed. Felix would bring Paul from time to time to talk, but there is no evidence that he continued in any conviction of sin; he was hoping for a bribe (Acts 24:26). The time had come for new leadership and Paul had a brand new audience. Festus replaced Felix.
Paul came before Festus and again he pleaded his case, that he had done nothing wrong (Acts 25:8). Festus invited him to Jerusalem for a trial (Acts 25:9) but rather than return to Jerusalem, Paul appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:10, 11) He was destined for Rome (which was God’s design already).
Festus had an interesting statement, he “was at a loss how to investigate” Paul’s claim that a dead man had come to life (Acts 25:20). How would each of us conduct such an investigation?
Our first task is to make it personal; Jesus is not just someone to believe in, he is someone to know. Once you know he is risen, a conviction develops that will not be swayed. We know him since he speaks directly to our hearts, not just our heads. Dead prophets of the Old Testament don’t save, guide, heal, deliver, answer prayer or speak through the ancient text. The first step is to open your heart to the possibility that Jesus is who he said he was. Then ask him if he is real, and be honest and open enough for him to reveal himself to you. A good investigative reporter asks these questions: who? what? where? when? and how?
What? This passage tells us the what; including who is in charge, what is he up to and where he is leading.
When? No one, not even Paul, knew the answer to when God would fulfill his promise. Paul just knew that God had called him to finish the task he had been given. The Jewish patriarchs all died before receiving the promise. They all believed God would send his Messiah, but they did not know when, or who it would be. They knew what he would come to do; bring salvation. They were certain of where; Israel, and then to other parts of the world. But the problem is that they did not know when God would do all of this.
How? Paul knew God was sending him to Rome, but he did not know how. Festus thought he had decided to send him to Rome (Acts 25:25) but it was actually God’s decision. Paul probably never imagined that his arrest would be a tool in God’s hand to give him an all expenses paid trip to Rome. God always fulfills his promises, and we just don’t know how he will do it. God promised to send the Messiah, but no one ever guessed exactly how he would do it.
Application: Each of us at some point in our lives must come to terms with the claims of Christ. C. S. Lewis wrote, in Mere Christianity, about his famous theological trilemma. Jesus claimed to be God (John 10:30, 14:9). That claim is either true or it is false. If it is false and he knew it; it make Jesus a liar. If it is false and he didn’t know it; it makes him a lunatic. Neither option makes Jesus one worth following. The only logical option is that he claimed to be God and it was true; so the choice we have to make is to accept or reject this fact.
The resurrection can be investigated as well (read more). I see it as God’s affirmation of all that Christ stood for and taught during his earthly life. Jesus proved that all he said and taught was true by rising from the dead; just as he said he would (Matthew 12:40, 26:61, 27:63, Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34, 14:58, John 2:19).