I have offended neither against the Jews, nor against the Temple, nor against Caesar. . . . I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, which is where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you well know. If I have committed any wrong, or if I have done something which means I deserve to die, I’m not trying to escape death. But if I have none of the things they are accusing me of, nobody can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar. (25:8, 10-11)
Paul is willing to stand trial where he should stand trial. He is even willing to pay the just price for what he has done, though they will find out that he has done nothing wrong against anyone and shouldn’t be punished at all. He will jump through whatever hoop they put in front of him, wait in jail as long as it takes, even appeal to Caesar and be shipped off to Rome, just so long as he gets justice.
But injustice Paul cannot abide. Be framed on trumped-up charges without a fair trial? No way! Allow the Jews to spout slanderous half-truths without a response? Not for a minute! Be turned over to the bloodthirsty Jews because of some back room deal? Paul will not stand for that. That would simply be unjust.
Paul wants one thing: justice.
Following Jesus doesn’t mean we have to just lay down and take it. Yes, the way of Christ is the path of self-denial and sacrifice, but justice does not have to be ignored in the process. Meekness is most certainly a virtue (Matthew 5:5), but that does not mean a person has to offer themselves to any malevolent soul that wishes to do them harm. One can be humble and sacrificial while also upholding and pursuing justice. We are not called to let injustice proliferate in an already unjust world. Even Jesus didn’t die because of injustice. He died to uphold the justice of a God whose holiness had to be honored.
Like Paul, we can humbly serve a world that is not always hospitable. We can put ourselves in places of discomfort and risk. But we can do all of this while insisting that justice be done by those whose job it is to ensure it.