I remember and still laugh about the story of the little girl who was wreaking havoc on a commuter plane. Her mom had little control of her daughter who was out of her seat running around bothering businessmen and others who wanted peace. The flight attendant was summoned to solve this “problem child”. She leaned in to tell the exasperated mom she needed to have her daughter belted in her seat.
When the mom failed, the flight attendant took over. “You will have to sit in your seat right now to be safe”, said the attendant while buckling the child in her seat. Her humiliated mom gave her child the death stare for her behavior, but then noticed that the obstinate little girl was still smiling after being locked down. “Why are you smiling?” said the tired mom. The determined little girl replied, “They may have tied me down, but in my mind, I’m still running around!”
I wonder if the chief priests were as exasperated as this mom in trying to lock up Peter and his crew for preaching Jesus?
ACTS—God Acts through His Disciples
Acts 5:17-42, The Message
To Obey God Rather than Men
17-20 Provoked mightily by all this, the Chief Priest and those on his side, mainly the sect of Sadducees, went into action, arrested the apostles and put them in the town jail. But during the night an angel of God opened the jailhouse door and led them out. He said, “Go to the Temple and take your stand. Tell the people everything there is to say about this Life.”
Promptly obedient, they entered the Temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.
21-23 Meanwhile, the Chief Priest and his cronies convened the High Council, Israel’s senate, and sent to the jail to have the prisoners brought in. When the police got there, they couldn’t find them anywhere in the jail. They went back and reported, “We found the jail locked tight as a drum and the guards posted at the doors, but when we went inside we didn’t find a soul.”
24 The chief of the Temple police and the high priests were puzzled. “What’s going on here anyway?”
25-26 Just then someone showed up and said, “Did you know that the men you put in jail are back in the Temple teaching the people?” The chief and his police went and got them, but they handled them gently, fearful that the people would riot and turn on them.
27-28 Bringing them back, they stood them before the High Council. The Chief Priest said, “Didn’t we give you strict orders not to teach in Jesus’ name? And here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are trying your best to blame us for the death of this man.”
29-32 Peter and the apostles answered, “It’s necessary to obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, the One you killed by hanging him on a cross. God set him on high at his side, Prince and Savior, to give Israel the gift of a changed life and sins forgiven. And we are witnesses to these things. The Holy Spirit, whom God gives to those who obey him, corroborates every detail.”
33-37 When they heard that, they were furious and wanted to kill them on the spot. But one of the council members stood up, a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel, a teacher of God’s Law who was honored by everyone. He ordered the men taken out of the room for a short time, then said, “Fellow Israelites, be careful what you do to these men. Not long ago Theudas made something of a splash, claiming to be somebody, and got about four hundred men to join him. He was killed, his followers dispersed, and nothing came of it. A little later, at the time of the census, Judas the Galilean appeared and acquired a following. He also fizzled out and the people following him were scattered to the four winds.
38-39 “So I am telling you: Hands off these men! Let them alone. If this program or this work is merely human, it will fall apart, but if it is of God, there is nothing you can do about it—and you better not be found fighting against God!”
40-42 That convinced them. They called the apostles back in. After giving them a thorough whipping, they warned them not to speak in Jesus’ name and sent them off. The apostles went out of the High Council overjoyed because they had been given the honor of being dishonored on account of the Name. Every day they were in the Temple and homes, teaching and preaching Christ Jesus, not letting up for a minute.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
Peter and the apostles were on mission for God, obedient to God and led by God. As soon as we give our lives to God, He shows us His perfect plan. He always provides a way to accomplish His plan as we daily commune with Him, trusting and obeying.
Look back and observe the acts of God:
- Protection. God sent angels to bring Peter and the apostles out of lock down.
- The Path. God gave Peter and the apostles one clear mission. Speak Truth about Jesus including their own testimonies about being with Jesus. “…we are witnesses to these things”.
- Boldness to obey. “It’s necessary to obey God rather than men.”
- Intervening Presence. God used Gamaliel to run inference for the apostles. “If this program or this work is merely human, it will fall apart, but if it is of God, there is nothing you can do about it—and you better not be found fighting against God!”
- Power in the Name of Jesus. With fearless confidence, Peter and the apostles “never let up for a minute” with a God-joy that filled their souls no matter what they faced in opposition.
We learn that You and Your Redeeming Truth will always be told and cannot be stopped. You guide and provide along the way of obedience. Each step of obedience brings us closer to you. Seeking you and your will first each day brings a joy that is indescribable. Every day is a learning experience with how great you are! Thank you for life now and forever.
In Jesus Name, Amen