Acts 26, in a full court, only Agrippa is there for Paul.

27 Jun

Acts 26,   ‘“Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.”‘

‘So Paul motioned with his hand …’

Caravaggio, an Italian painting, choose two depictions of Paul on the Damascus road. Paul’s hands are prominent and in motion in both images. In the one below, in a Roman chapel his hands, both his hands are closed . He is unwilling to feel, or see; to accept or receive anything. His hands are closed.

But in front of Agrippa, Paul can only raise one hand. His other is Probably, at his side , chained. Paul speaks with his one hand, 

…Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.”

So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: 2 “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.

4 “The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. 6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me. 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?

9 “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished,and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.”..,

That is where Saul, soon to become Paul, is going – from Jerusalem to Damascus. But, again, he is met on this Damascus road with light..,

Here, Caravaggio has Saul’s face open, bathe in light, surrounded by a calm horse. Saul here is reaching out to Jesus, to His light..

“On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,[a] ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’

“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue youfrom your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyesand turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repentand turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”

25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them.31 After they left the room, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”

32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

“Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

Paul’s hands are in chains. He can lift and motion only one hand, one arm, to King Agrippa. But in Caravaggio’s paintings Saul’s arms and hands are both closed in darkness and opened in light to Jesus’ voice, His light.

Saul was both closed and opened on this, his road. He is portrayed in both stances and while we can not know which painting is an accurate picture, I like to think that both are spot on.

At time’s I have open arms; at others closed arms and hands before Jesus. I have to travel both ways to be able to lift on, even one hand and arm to Him.

When I lift, I become like Paul.

Lift before our Agrippa’s so they hear, they listen. Raise, rise as best you can.

Let his light lift your heart, mind, self. Rise.

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