The Voice of Reason
Lord God, how great You are. It is amazing—the God of the universe, the Lord of the heavens is with me!
Read Acts 5:33–42
33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 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. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 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. 37 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. 38 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. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
40 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.
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 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.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Thy kingdom come” (Luke 11:2, KJV)—then there will be true justice!
The dice was loaded against the apostles in the dock. Their accusers, judge and jury consisted exclusively of those who had the most to lose from their message, a message which insisted that those very accusers were murderers! What sort of justice could be expected from such a court?
Enter Gamaliel. God obviously saw it coming; he planted the voice of reason among the judges in the person of Paul’s former teacher, no less (Acts 22:3). Observe not only what he said but also the way he said it, giving due respect to his fellow leaders by waiting until the accused were out of earshot before giving them a lecture (34). He did not base his intervention on mere sentimental attachment to an up-and- coming young leader whose zeal and acute intelligence he must have known quite well. His logic, based on objective evidence, could not be contradicted (35–39), finishing as he did with a weighty appeal to their standing before the true Judge. No wonder his argument carried the day.
Having agreed with Gamaliel that they should set the apostles free, the council first had them flogged. It does not look like true justice, but that is what Jesus Christ warned would be the lot of those who followed him (Luke 21:12). It is a present reality in the lives of believers in many parts of the world where other religions hold sway; and the chances are that it will become increasingly so in the western world. It was what Jesus Christ himself experienced. Pilate knew that he was innocent of the charges against him but still had him flogged and handed over to be crucified (Mark 15:14,15). What should we do when it happens to us? Just as Jesus Christ told them to do (Matt. 5:11,12), the apostles rejoiced in the experience (41).
Reflect on how Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 3:12. In what ways are these words relevant or not relevant to your own situation?
Merciful God, You call me to obedience. I thank You that Gamaliels have appeared in my life in the right place at the right time. I trust You for that going forward.
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