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God’s Word for You

Acts 5:17-24 very much perplexed

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, October 10, 2019

17 But the high priest rose up and all those who were with him, who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.  19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and spoke to them: 20 “Go and stand in the temple courts and tell the people all the words of this Life.”

Once again, the Sadducees were incensed on account of their jealousy. The apostles were making disciples of thousands and thousands of people, “multitudes,” and the Sadducees had no sense of reaching out with the word of God at all. Their manner of showing their faith was literally a holier than thou attitude rather than preaching (as they might have) the joys of knowing Moses and the true will of God. We never see any instance of a Sadducee doing mission work or attempting any preaching of any kind. They were too concerned with their political shenanigans to proclaim the word of God to anyone.

All of the apostles (not just Peter and John this time) were put into the “public” prison, the one used by the Romans for prisoners of the state. An angel released them, and here we have a fascinating difference in accounts. For the apostles, the experience was of being escorted out of the prison through open doors by an angel. But for the paid, professional guards, those doors were never unlocked or opened, and the prisoners should have been right where they had been locked up.

The angel delivered a command from God: Go into the temple and preach “the words of this Life.” The angel is echoing what Peter said to Jesus; “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). These words, the words that lead to this Life, eternal life, are the words of the gospel of Christ crucified and risen from the dead.

21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. Now the high priest, having risen early,  came along with those who were with him and called together the council and all the senate of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought out. 22 But when the officers went and opened the doors,  they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported this. 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened the doors we found no one inside.” 24 When the captain of the temple and the high priests heard these reports, they were very much perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to.

This was a scene that would happen again and again. Let’s reduce what was happening to its barest bones:

a, Jesus healed people, and you became jealous.
  You killed Jesus, but he rose again despite your guards.
b, His apostles healed people, and you became jealous.
  You jailed his apostles, but an angel released them despite your guards.

Note: This isn’t about the effectiveness of your guards.
Note: This isn’t about whether you can do miracles or not.
Note: This is all about your relationship with Jesus.

(Remember all of the Old Testament examples of people resisting God’s message. Since you Sadducees reject the prophets, we can stick to these examples: Noah’s ark, Lot and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, Joseph and his jealous brothers, the Israelites and the golden calf, and also the Amorites under kings Sihon and Og).

c, What should you do? Should Jesus change, or should you?

The prison doors were locked, but the apostles got out. Your hearts are shut, but Jesus is still knocking, for a little while. The guard captain and the high priests were “wondering what this would come to.” What do you think?

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.



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