More Prison Time for the Apostles
OCTOBER 17 - Nº 290 Acts 5:15-42
People came from the towns all around Jerusalem to witness first-hand what the apostles were doing. Many listened to their message about Jesus and believed. They brought their sick friends and family members, including those possessed by demons, and laid them on mats along the streets. They realized that the Holy Spirit’s power was present even in Peter’s shadow. As it passed over the sick, they were healed. The high priest and his associates became very jealous. They were members of the Sadducees and did not believe in life after death (see #208 - July 27). They hated the apostles’ claim that God had raised Jesus from the dead, so they had them arrested and put in jail. Guards were placed at the doors. But that night, God sent an angel to free the apostles. The angel instructed them to go back to the Temple courtyard to teach the people about Jesus. Early the next morning they showed up and began teaching again. Not knowing his prisoners had been set free, the high priest called for an assembly of the Sanhedrin—the powerful Jewish governing Council. He sent guards to the jail to escort the apostles to the meeting. But when the officers arrived, the cell was empty. They rushed back to the Sanhedrin. “We found the jail securely locked with the guards standing outside the doors,” they blurted out. “But when we opened them, no one was inside!” Just then, someone ran into the meeting and announced, “The men you put in prison are now teaching at the Temple!” The captain of the Temple guard accompanied his men to find the apostles. He did not want to use force because his officers were afraid of what the people might do. But the apostles went peacefully to the Council meeting and stood before the high priest. “Didn’t we order you not to teach in the name of Jesus?” the high priest questioned. “Yet you continue to fill Jerusalem with your false teaching, and you are determined to make us sound guilty of killing him.” Peter and the apostles spoke up, “We must obey God rather than men. You did kill Jesus by putting him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead and has exalted him. He is now seated at God’s right hand where he is waiting to forgive you if you will repent.” This made the religious leaders furious! They immediately wanted to condemn the apostles to death. But a prominent Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up. He sent the apostles out of the room. Then he said, “Be careful what you do with these men. My advice is to leave them alone. If their mission is based on human plans and efforts, they will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them. In fact, you will find yourselves fighting against God.” Gamaliel’s speech convinced the Council to change their minds. They decided to let the apostles go—but only after they had flogged them and ordered them again not to speak in the name of Jesus. The apostles left the meeting rejoicing that they were worthy of suffering for Jesus. They returned to the Temple courts every day and taught the good news about Jesus, the Messiah!
Have you ever been ridiculed or rejected for your faith in Jesus? If so, were you able to thank God for allowing you to experience just a little bit of the suffering Jesus went through (see #280 - October 7)? A gritty, courageous faith looks at the cross and says, “Jesus was willing to do that for me, so I am willing to go through this for him!”