Intro: Luke’s writings in the Book of Acts picks up—with life in the Spirit—where the Gospels [highlighting Christ’s life, death, and resurrection] leave off. Luke shares about the establishment and the expansion of the Church—believers and lovers of God through Christ. Because of the power of the Spirit released to these believers, they must learn to obey Christ as their Supreme authority and live for his redemptive purposes (Mat 28:18-20). This was true for the early Church and it is true for us as God’s children led by the Spirit, today. No matter what the world or religious organizations proclaim to be acceptable to God, our obedience to Christ—the Living Word of Truth—must be the foundation for the decisions and obedience that guides our lives.
In our passage this morning, the apostle’s passionate proclamation of the Gospel provokes the religious counsel members [powerful and wealthy Sadducees who are in control of the Temple] to take action against them. The Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection or want to hear anything that would diminish their authority over the people, so they rise up to silence and destroy God’s messengers of Truth.
The Sadducees demand respect and honor for their teaching and authority, but due to their sin of omission [failure to honor Christ], they do not receive what they expect. These religious leaders are driven by jealousy and greed. The honor the apostles give to God, the religious leaders want for themselves. Therefore, these leaders have the apostles arrested by the Temple guards and placed in jail.
However, just as Jesus promised, persecution does bring blessings and an opportunity to conform more closely to the life and character of Jesus. God’s purpose will always prevail and we see how God sends his angels to dispense grace in order to rescue and release his Christlike apostles from jail. As well, the Spirit sends these apostles back to the Temple to courageously continue sharing the message of Christ, so they obey. It would have been tempting to run away rather than to return to the Temple again to proclaim an unwelcome Truth, wouldn’t it? May we boldly proclaim what Christ has placed in our hearts, today!
Acts 5:17-26 NLT The Apostles Meet Opposition
17 The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then he told them, 20 “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!”
21 So at daybreak the apostles entered the Temple, as they were told, and immediately began teaching.
When the high priest and his officials arrived, they convened the high council[a]—the full assembly of the elders of Israel. Then they sent for the apostles to be brought from the jail for trial. 22 But when the Temple guards went to the jail, the men were gone. So they returned to the council and reported, 23 “The jail was securely locked, with the guards standing outside, but when we opened the gates, no one was there!”
24 When the captain of the Temple guard and the leading priests heard this, they were perplexed, wondering where it would all end. 25 Then someone arrived with startling news: “The men you put in jail are standing in the Temple, teaching the people!”
26 The captain went with his Temple guards and arrested the apostles, but without violence, for they were afraid the people would stone them.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the courage we gain from reading about your apostles and how bravely they faced religious persecution. Whatever difficulties we may face, please help us to persevere and allow it to make us more like Jesus. As well, help us to be vocal with our convictions and be ready to give the reason we bow to the authority of the Living Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.