When we visited Israel in 2009, we went to Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast. Caesarea Maritima is of note for a number of reasons:
- it was here that Peter baptised Cornelius the centurion
- Paul left from here on his first missionary journey
- It seems likely that this was the official residence of Pontius Pilate and it is where the Pilate stone was found which provided archaeological evidence of the existence of Pontius Pilate
- Paul was imprisoned here before being sent to Rome
- It was the location of a palace built by Herod the Great.
It was in this palace that Paul gave his defence of Christianity to Herod Agrippa II and Festus the Roman Governor. Part of the mosaic floor of the palace remains – perhaps we stood where the apostle Paul bore testimony!
In Acts 24 we learn that the Jews asked Festus to send Paul to Jerusalem for trial. Paul refused to go and appealed to Caesar as a Roman citizen. Festus agreed to send Paul to Rome, but Paul first had to appear before Herod Agrippa. In Acts 26 Paul bears such a powerful testimony that Agrippa is moved to exclaim, ‘Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.’
‘AMOST’ – what a sad word! To be almost persuaded is to not be persuaded. To be almost converted is to be not converted. If we almost repent our sins remain with us. If we almost keep a commandment we do not receive the blessings predicated on that commandment. To be almost worthy of a temple recommend is to be deprived of eternal priesthood blessings. To be almost prepared for the Second Coming is to be one of the Foolish Virgins.
If Christ had almost performed the atonement all mankind would be lost.
When I was a teenager there was a popular question: ‘If it was illegal to be a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?’
What do you think? If it was illegal to be a faithful Latter-day Saint would there be enough evidence to convict us? What’s that you say…….Almost?