“When they had brought them, they stood them
before the Council. The high priest questioned
them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to
continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have
filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to
bring this man’s blood upon us.”
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
“But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them.”
As I read Saturday’s Bible reading of Acts 5–6, I thought of the various reactions of the different people to the Good News of Jesus Christ that Peter and the apostles were preaching. Many did not receive it as Good News because to do so would require them to acknowledge their sin and repent.
Chapter five opens with the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira attempting to deceive Peter. We obviously don’t know their thinking, but this kind of deception is usually carried out when people are more interested in appearances than reality. We all know the temptation to do this—to appear better than we really are—but it’s something we need to be aware of and guard against. God is the God of truth and as His people so are we to be. Repenting after his sins of adultery and murder, David wrote in Psalm 51:
“Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.”
In Acts 5:17, the high priest and the Sadducees reacted to the spread of the Gospel and the miracles done by the Apostles first with jealousy and then upon hearing Peter address them in Acts 5:29–32, with murderous intent. W. E. Vine succinctly defines jealousy: “…jealousy desires to have the same or the same sort of thing for itself.”1 Their jealousy of the Apostles as they saw the people coming to them and being miraculously healed trumped any self-examination about their inner heart. Gamaliel is the sole voice of restraint.
Look at the apostles’ reaction to their persecution and see how it reveals their inner heart:
“They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
And then there is the reaction of obedience by those who do hear the Gospel, repent and believe:
“The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”
As you read these chapters, consider yourself. What is the reality of your innermost being?
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1W. E. Vine, Old Testament edited by F. F. Bruce, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and
New Testament Words, 1981, Vol. 2, p. 37.
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter