Commentary on the Gospel of
Acts 25:13b-21; John 21:15-19
It is not a claim but reality
By the time Portius Festus took over the governance of Judea from Felix, Paul was already in the Caesarean prison for two years. Neither Felix nor Festus had any reason to keep Paul in prison but none of them had the courage to go against the powerful lobby of the high priests and the elders in Jerusalem. In a moment, Paul would face the great grand son of Herod the Great who wanted to kill the child Jesus (Matt 2:13-18), and the son of the one who executed apostle James, the brother of John, and imprisoned Peter (Acts 12:1-3). We can only imagine what went through Paul's mind. And yet, although seemingly at the mercy of powerful leaders of this world, Paul was an instrument of evangelisation in God's hands. "The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all" (Ps 103:19).
It was five o’clock in the morning on the shore of the lake of Galilee in Tiberias. I was admiring the beauty of the lake as the son was rising. To my right is the village of Tabgha where nearly two thousand years ago, also early morning Jesus appeared to His seven disciples (see John 21:1-19). One can find there the rock-hewn steps that lead to the water on which the risen Christ stood on that morning. The only accusation that is levelled against Paul is his "claim" that "a certain Jesus who had died" is alive (Acts 25:19). For Festus and many contemporary agnostics it is a claim, for us who like Paul have met the risen Christ it is a reality. It is the One who died and is alive that we trust and follow.