I love reading the book of Acts because, on just about every page, we witness the awesome ministry of the Holy Spirit.
In this meditation, I would like you to consider with me Acts 5:17-41. Earlier in the chapter (12-16), we read of the amazing ministry that Peter and other apostles were having. We read “They performed many miraculous signs and wonders.” Then we are told that “more and more men and women believed in the LORD.” (vs. 14)
Now, listen to this … “As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.” (15-16)
My heart cries out “O LORD, please empower Your people today for such a ministry.” Do you want to be used in such a ministry? I certainly do.
Folks, in Hebrews 13:9 we read “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever.” He has not changed. Before He left, Jesus told His disciples that they would continue His works and do even greater works. John 14:12
In John 9:4-5 Jesus said “As long as it is the day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. The night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
People were drawn to Jesus for at least three reasons – His miracles, His teachings, and His character. Each of us, who is truly born again has been given the Holy Spirit to live a holy life and to display and exemplify the excellence of Christ who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Many years ago, when I was pastor at Ventura Missionary Church, we raised the money to build a large tabernacle for the church in Haiti. I was asked to come for the dedication and to speak for several nights in the new facility. On my last night, there were at least 2,500 people present. Just as I got up to speak, the power failed and we were in total darkness. Then, something amazing happened. A tiny light appeared, and then another and another. Most of those people walked to get there. It would be dark when they returned home, so they each had a flashlight. Before long, that entire tabernacle was flooded with light. The thing I will never forget is the people shining their lights and poking holes in the darkness. God wants to empower you and me to poke holes in the darkness so that people can meet Jesus.
Returning to Acts 5:17 we read “Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.” That is not uncommon. People who do not know the joy of the LORD and are not really serving the LORD, are jealous of those who do. So, these religious leaders arrested the apostles and put them in public jail. (18) But then something supernatural happened. During the night an angel of the LORD opened the doors of the jail and brought them out and told them “Go stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life.” Folks, there are always those who are trying to silence us, but no matter our circumstances, we are to share the good news about Jesus Christ and the new life He offers. Paul spent a considerable amount of time in prison because of his zeal for the LORD and while there, he witnessed and wrote about life in Christ.
You can imagine the next day the high priest sent someone to the jail to bring Peter and the others to appear before the religious rulers and they found the cells empty. They were trying to figure out what happened when someone came and said “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people!” (vs. 25)
Next, we are told that the captain of the guard and his associates went and brought the apostles before the Sanhedrin (ruling party) to be questioned. They said to the apostles, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in His name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
They were guilty and that’s why they felt guilty. Now, notice the response of the apostles in verse 29, “We must obey God rather than men!” So must we!
There are forces at work in our nation trying to silence us as God’s people. They don’t want to hear our message or our testimonies. Will we remain silent or will we be courageous and committed to Christ and speak up for Him?
The authorities were furious and wanted to put them to death, but a highly respected Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up and displayed great wisdom. Basically, he reminded the leaders “Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (vs. 38-39)
So, the rulers listened to him and the apostles were flogged and released. They were also told to stop speaking in the name of Jesus. Then they were released.
What was the response of the apostles to the flogging and the warning? We read in verses 41-42 “The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And every day in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message, “Jesus is the Messiah.”
My heart cry is “LORD, use Jubilee to display Your grace, goodness, and works. Don’t let us cower in the face of those trying to silence us. Help us to be faithful in sharing the Good News – “Jesus is the Messiah/Savior “for all the world.”
I want more than ever to be used for the glory of God. I pray that you do too.
In Christ alone, Pastor Leonard