No Off Switch
Lord, You know the challenges I face in being Your obedient child. I’m grateful for Your Spirit’s help.
Read ACTS 5:17-42
 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.  They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.  But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out.  “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.”  At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin-the full assembly of the elders of Israel-and sent to the jail for the apostles.  But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported,  “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.”  On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this.  Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.”  At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.  Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest.  “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”  Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!  The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead-whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.  God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.  We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”  When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.  But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.  Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men.  Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing.  After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.  Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”  His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.  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 Christ. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow did the apostle react to the Sanhedrin’s opposition?
What we call the “good news” divides people. It makes some people dance for joy. But it makes others very angry. If we are going to witness publicly to our faith in Jesus we had better be prepared to suffer the consequences.
When the powers-that-be felt threatened by the message of the apostles they did what fearful rulers have done throughout the ages—they arrested them. So this time they were all in prison. Not that it did much good. You can imprison a person, but you can’t contain the Holy Spirit. Wise Gamaliel knew that if God was with these crazy people they would be unstoppable.
For these simple men to find themselves imprisoned, questioned and then flogged must have been profoundly shocking. But they left the Sanhedrin rejoicing. They were happy that Jesus had chosen them. The seventeenth-century poet Richard Lovelace (1618-1657) was one of many who have been imprisoned for their faith. Yet he wrote: “If I have freedom in my love and in my soul am free, Angels alone, that soar above, enjoy such liberty” (“To Althea, from Prison”).
Has God given you the opportunity to suffer in some way for your faith? If so, thank him for it.
Pray for Christians who are in prison for their faith. Ask God to enable them to praise him even behind bars.
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