Lord God, may I stand for You today and do what You say. I am Your loving, obedient child.
Read Acts 5:33-42
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.
“Throughout history people have tried to pigeonhole Jesus, but he will not be boxed in, for he has no peers, no rivals and no successors” (John Stott).
Opinion is divided about Gamaliel, though Luke offers a straightforward account of what happened. Certainly his speech was used by God, both to deliver the apostles from death and to give them liberty, at both a public and a personal level, to continue to make known the truth about Jesus. Yet Gamaliel remains uncertain, ambivalent. There is nothing to suggest that he ever made up his mind about Jesus. He preferred an open verdict.
Gamaliel has many followers today. They will not condemn Jesus, nor will they follow him. Gamaliel speaks as a sophisticate, advocating a position of neutrality, of “wait and see.” Such neutrality is not what it seems, for Gamaliel has already pigeonholed Jesus as another in a line of failed leaders to be relegated to history. Their story is one of false claims, a ragtag army and inglorious defeat. As long as Jesus can be so labeled, he can be dismissed as just one more pretender.
Gamaliel’s solution to the problem lacks focus, a time frame and specificity. It allows for ongoing debate with little resolution. It is easy to appear on the side of Jesus without ever making a stand; yet, as the early church was discovering, the time for simple debate was to be short-lived. Their backs bore witness to the price they paid to ensure that the good news was heard. For them, however, it was a price worth paying. Speculative theology will offer no help when the storm clouds gather, but a living faith will carry you through. Gamaliel was used by God to grant the apostles a breathing space; they did not waste the opportunity, nor should we.
Those who abandon themselves to God will never be abandoned by God. How have you experienced this truth in your own life?
Father, I don’t want be like those who know about You but don’t know You, are informed about Jesus but not transformed by him. Bring knowledge and transformation in my life.
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