Herod Agrippa, King of Judea for a brief period during the days of the apostles, was an eyewitness to the resurrected and exalted Christ…sort of. Remember, it is very possible to be an eyewitness to something and not really see or understand the fullness of what happened. Take for example the many people on Dealey Plaza the day of JFK’s assassination. Many were eyewitnesses, but very few really understood what had taken place. In the same way, Agrippa was an eyewitness, albeit a clueless one.
He was not an eyewitness to the birth of Christ like his grandfather, Herod the Great. And he was not an eyewitness to the life of Christ like his uncle, Herod Antipas. Instead, he was an eyewitness to the exalted Christ, the Jesus who had been raised from the dead and who had ascended to the right hand of the Father. The story of Acts 12, lived out in front of Agrippa (though he may never have realized it), demonstrates what the exalted Christ was doing and continues to do even today.
Sometimes we get the idea that Jesus is up in heaven twiddling His thumbs until the appointed day of His second coming. But the eternal triune God is still at work, and Christ is part of that work. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he talks about the exalted Christ. He wrote,
9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8.9-11)
Paul teaches that we are indwelled by the Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, Christ, the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead, and God’s Spirit. In the span of three verses, the trinity is tangled up and applied to the mystery of the gospel, Christ in us. Christ is in us. The Spirit of Christ is in us. And God is at work in and around those who are indwelled by Christ.
I leave you with the text of Acts 12, and I invite you to read the story of Agrippa while asking this question: “How did Agrippa see the exalted Christ at work in and the believers of Acts 12?”
1It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
5So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
6The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
8Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
11Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”
12When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”
15“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”
16But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the brothers about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.
18In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.
Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there a while. 20He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. Having secured the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply.
21On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
24But the word of God continued to increase and spread.