Acts 5:17-42: Rejoice and Witness!
January 9, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Another extraordinary story from the first chapters of Acts! Once again, the apostles and the church face persecution. Luke gives us the reason: the high priest and all the religious leaders were “filled with jealousy.” So often this is the case: when someone is attacked for preaching Christ, it is often because those who are attacking him are jealous. Sometimes Christians are attacked for their faith because people are jealous of the joy and peace and love that Christians have.
And so what happens? The most remarkable and surprising thing! The high priest and the religious leaders think they have the apostles safely in jail, but an angel sets them free! And when they send for the apostles in jail to try them, they find out that they are back at preaching the gospel! There is no keeping these gospel-hearted men down. Thrown in jail? An angel lets them out. What do they next? Go and preach the gospel. Let us be like them. Never stop living for Christ and preaching Christ!
Now they are in serious trouble. The religious leaders are planning to kill them. Until Gamaliel—the great Rabbi who trained none other than the apostle Paul when he was Saul—intervenes. His logic is sound. If what these apostles are doing is from God, then the religious leaders will only find themselves fighting against God. And if it is not from God, it will fail anyway. So leave them alone!
Rather than completely leaving them alone, they bring the apostles in and “merely” flog them—a flogging that was vicious and horrible. They were only meant to administer 40 lashes, in case your brother is degraded before your eyes (Deut. 25:3). But in order to ensure that the brother was not degraded, they only gave the 40 lashes minus 1, or the 39 lashes. At any rate, that such risk of real degradation was on the cards with this flogging shows you how horrible it must have been.
But what do the apostles conclude?
#1 They rejoice: “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”
#2 They keep on preaching anyway: “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”
When you are experiencing persecution, therefore, do the same. Rejoice (see Matthew 5:11-12). And never stop witnessing to Jesus!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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