Our reading this week is found in Acts 5:12-42 (NIV). After the first persecution, when Peter and John had spent a night in jail, the apostles had prayed for power to speak God’s word with great boldness. This led to dramatic growth in the church. “More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number” (v. 14). It also led to more persecution. The religious leaders, motivated by jealousy, again put the apostles in jail. An angel came in the night and opened the doors, instructing them: “Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people all about this new life” (v. 20). This has been the blessed appointment of the Church ever since that day.
We often see humor in Luke’s description of events. Imagine the bafflement of these leaders as they are staring at empty jail cells, and they are told: “The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people” (v. 25). “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” (said to have been spoken by Albert Einstein). These religious leaders repeated their actions. They arrested the apostles, reminding them that there were forbidden to speak about Jesus, and said: “You are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood” (v. 28). Sin often causes us to have short memories. The same people had said to Pilate, concerning Jesus: “His blood is on us and on our children!” (Mt. 27:25). The world was only beginning to see the impact of the shed blood of Jesus! As sinners, we are all guilty of “this man’s blood.”
Peter’s reply was the same that it had been before: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (v. 29). Today we are not persecuted for talking about Jesus, but we are discouraged from doing so by what someone called this “OMG generation.” Speaking boldly in the name of Jesus is just as much a necessity today as it has ever been. The Pharisee Gamaliel became a prophet and spoke the words that should provide great encouragement for us. “If it (the activity of speaking in the name of Jesus) is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourself fighting against God” (v. 39). Do you want to join a winning cause today? The cause of Christ will never fail! “Go and tell the people all about this new life!”