The Preacher and the Praetorian Guard

by Stan Mitchell
guard.jpg“As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ” (Philippians 1:13).
Maximus rolled his eyes as he passed Vitellius. “Your turn with the preacher,” he said. The younger man grinned, then attached the chain to his wrist. The other end extended to the wrist of Paul, a preacher from a province on the eastern frontiers of the empire. His was a six-hour watch. The Praetorian guard, Rome’s most elite force, was stationed in the capital to protect Rome’s most valuable asset — Caesar himself. But while there, they also guarded prisoners who had “appealed to Caesar,” the highest court in the land.
So shift after shift of guardsmen had been shuffled in and out of Paul’s cell, hundreds of veterans of Roman wars, and the word had gotten out. The preacher flipped his hardship over and made it an opportunity to preach a sermon to his guard; the captive made them a captive audience. Imagine telling tough veterans of a hundred wars that they should give up their beer drinking, womanizing, profanity-filled lifestyle and become Christians! Yet they all held a grudging respect for the man, too. Like a hot knife cutting through butter, the Apostle had penetrated the corridors of power with his message.
Like soldiers will, they made fun of “the preacher,” but they knew he was utterly sincere, and they knew many religious leaders who were not. He was irrepressible. “When he finally stands before Caesar himself, he will probably not defend himself, he’ll preach a sermon!” one declared. They all nodded and smiled. They knew it was true.
But Paul’s greatest sermon, his dedicated life, had already been preached.
So what do your actions communicate?

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