The Lord stood near Paul!
Scripture reading for June 5th: Acts 23
After Paul let the commander know that he was also a Roman citizen, the commander sought to find out why the Jews were so angry with Paul. He had the Jewish leadership convene the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of 70 elders. Paul was brought before them. “”Paul looked at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!”” (Acts 23:1-3)
This group of men had already judged Paul, even before hearing him! Paul chose words similar to what Jesus used to speak to the leaders! (Matthew 23:27-28) Paul, however, apologized for his remark by citing another passage from the law, “Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.” (Exodus 22:28) Paul was confronting some of the same people that had Jesus crucified unjustly!
Paul then made a statement that set the Sanhedrin in conflict. “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in te resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 23:6) A dispute broke out in the Sanhedrin between the Sadducees and the Pharisees over this theological issue. The conflict became so violent, that the Roman commander had Paul taken from their meeting and kept in the barracks.
“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) Paul had another personal encounter with Jesus! Jesus told him to have courage! He would also testify in Rome as he was now having opportunity to share with those in Jerusalem! Every opportunity is directed by our Lord and He stands with His own!