Three days later, Paul called the Jewish leaders together for a meeting at his house. He said, "The Jews in Jerusalem arrested me on trumped-up charges, and I was taken into custody by the Romans. I assure you that I did absolutely nothing against Jewish laws or Jewish customs.
After the Romans investigated the charges and found there was nothing to them, they wanted to set me free,
but the Jews objected so fiercely that I was forced to appeal to Caesar. I did this not to accuse them of any wrongdoing or to get our people in trouble with Rome. We've had enough trouble through the years that way.
I did it for Israel. I asked you to come and listen to me today to make it clear that I'm on Israel's side, not against her. I'm a hostage here for hope, not doom."
They said, "Nobody wrote warning us about you. And no one has shown up saying anything bad about you.
But we would like very much to hear more. The only thing we know about this Christian sect is that nobody seems to have anything good to say about it."
When the unbelievers got cantankerous and started bickering with each other, Paul interrupted: "I have just one more thing to say to you. The Holy Spirit sure knew what he was talking about when he addressed our ancestors through Isaiah the prophet:
Go to this people and tell them this: "You're going to listen with your ears, but you won't hear a word; You're going to stare with your eyes, but you won't see a thing.
These people are blockheads! They stick their fingers in their ears so they won't have to listen; They screw their eyes shut so they won't have to look, so they won't have to deal with me face-to-face and let me heal them."
"You've had your chance. The non-Jewish outsiders are next on the list. And believe me, they're going to receive it with open arms!"
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)