Thank you, loving Father, for Your life-changing forgiveness.
Read ACTS 5:17–32
17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”
21 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. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.
25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 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.
27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “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.”
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
ReflectWhat do you think of when you hear the word “forgiveness”? Jot down a few ideas.
The apostles’ arrest by the Jewish authorities was inevitable. They had been teaching that Jesus is the Messiah—and they had done this on the doorstep of the Temple. They went to the site of Jewish worship and declared that Jesus had flung open the door to reconciliation with God. The imprisoned apostles may have wondered if the next morning would bring a trial not dissimilar to that of Jesus. Instead, they are rescued by an angel (19). The very same apostles, who ran away when Jesus was arrested on that fateful night in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:56), then promptly march back to the Temple to continue teaching about the transformative power of life in Christ (21). Their lives are a testimony to their own message.
“We told you not to talk about Jesus!” complains the high priest, when he finally manages to see the apostles. This warning had been issued back in Acts 4:18 after Peter and John healed a lame man. The apostles have a different agenda: not defiance of authority for the sake of defiance, but obedience to God. Our lives, like theirs, are transformed by the repentance and forgiveness offered by Jesus. The Holy Spirit (32) enables that transformation when we submit ourselves to God.
Spend a few moments contemplating the power of forgiveness in your life. How has it changed you?
Loving Father, give me the courage to “obey You rather than human beings” (29) in each situation I walk through.
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