Pomp and Pageantry
Lady Gaga began her Super Bowl LI Halftime Show wowing the crowd. There’s a reason why she sang a melody of patriotic anthems from the top of the NRG Stadium in Houston clothed in shimmering silver and then dove through the night stars to center stage. It’s not only entertainers who know how to use the spotlight to mesmerize their audience. Politicians do the same.
I remember the days when the young, handsome JFK and the gorgeous Jackie wooed the crowds in the early stages of Camelot, and when President Trump glided down the escalator behind Melania in Trump Tower to the beat of Neil Young’s ‘Rockin in the Free World’ and announced his presidential run, it was about grabbing the headlines and capturing the crowd. This use of fantasia to win authority and gain power has been in vogue as far back as the first century.
In AD 59 when Agrippa and Bernice, his sister, made their grand entrance in the Roman palace in Caesarea with Festus, the Roman governor, right behind, it was all about pomp and pageantry. How would one of God’s most trusted servant’s react to all this glitz?
“Then the next day Agrippa and Bernice arrived with great pomp and entered the assembly hall together with military tribunes, and prominent men of the city. Festus then ordered for Paul to be brought in and said, ‘King Agrippa and all you gentlemen gathered with us. Take a good look at this one about whom a vast number of Jews appealed to me, both in Jerusalem and in this place, crying out that this one should not live any longer. On the other hand, I perceive that he’s done nothing worthy of death. The problem is that he has appealed to be sent to His Majesty the Emperor for a final judgment and I have no definite charge to write down for my lord about him. Therefore I’ve brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after we have examined him, I may have something to write. For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner to Rome and not have definite charges.’” Acts 25:23-27
All the glitter and glitz couldn’t cover up the fact that under Roman law Paul had done absolutely nothing worthy of death. Even under Roman oppression it was not a capital crime to believe in the resurrection and specifically that Jesus the Nazarene had conquered death. Everyone in the assembly room knew this, but Festus has a big problem. Because he had threatened to make Paul return to Jerusalem for trial before the Jews, a place where his life would be in danger, he had pressured Paul to appeal to the Emperor. Now Festus has a bigger problem. What does he write down for Caesar to read when this prisoner stands before him?
How will Paul defend himself before this Jewish king who was in the know on both Jewish law and the facts of Jesus’ life and ministry?
LORD, help me not to be mesmerized, seduced, or intimidated by the pageantry of political rulers or the hate and murderous intent that can infect religious leaders. Give me confidence that all their duplicity and games cannot counter the plan that you are working out. Give me courage, like Paul, to simply keep on explaining my testimony and challenging others to decide for themselves about Jesus, his death and resurrection.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!