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God’s Word for You

Acts 5:25-28 the moment for the Sanhedrin

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, October 11, 2019

25 Then someone came and told them, “The men you put in prison are standing in the temple courts, teaching the people.”

The timing of the Holy Spirit here is perfect. If the Sadducees had found out about the release of the apostles privately, they could have (and would have) kept it to themselves. But they had called the whole Sanhedrin together early in the morning (Acts 5:21), and there was now no way of keeping the matter secret.

26 The captain went with the officers and brought the apostles out. but not by force, because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.  27 After they had brought them out, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them.

Now they were all together, the twelve apostles, preaching. No longer afraid, no longer denying that they knew Jesus, no longer hiding in the shadows, they were proclaiming the name of Jesus boldly in the temple. The captain of the guard went in person to get them, but he did not arrest them with any violence (“not by force”) because of the huge crowd that was there that would overpower the armed guard by sheer numbers. But the Twelve went along and appeared before the Jewish high council.

28 He said, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

The meeting of the two groups, the Twelve apostles and the seventy Jewish elders, shows the true conflict of the two religions as they came to realize their impasse. Judaism could not continue on as the people of God if they rejected Christ.

On the one hand were those who trusted in God’s promises and who embraced the promised Savior who had come to fulfill his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all of the Patriarchs and prophets of old. On the other hand were the old, ossified council, clinging to man-made rules, unable to think that God would ever change anything, least of all in person, and forgetting that they themselves were the product of such a change barely a few generations old. Here in verse 28, which group is on trial? It is the Sanhedrin which goes on the defensive and immediately cuts to the heart of the matter: “You intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” They could not even bring themselves to utter the name of Jesus Christ aloud.

This was not a new problem. When God called Abraham, he was setting aside a man and his family as a special part of his plan. What would God have done to Abraham if Abraham had rejected God’s call? God would have chosen someone else. Would he have put Abraham to death? Would he have chosen Lot to carry on the line of the Savior? Or Laban?

When God called Moses into his service, what would he have done if Moses had been unfaithful in the least? We have a hint of the answer when Moses hesitated to circumcise his son, and the Lord “was about to kill him” (Exodus 4:24), except that his wife Zipporah stepped in to do what her husband was unwilling to do. If God had killed Moses, would he have chosen Aaron as his prophet?

Those aren’t questions we can really answer, since they didn’t happen, although James assures us: “We who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). But we do see how God treated Saul when Saul went his own path away from God. Solomon, too, was judged for his apostasy. Then there were the many kings of Judah, all of whom were in the line of the Savior (Matthew 1:7-11) but many of whom were personally condemned for rejecting their faith in the coming Messiah.

Now it was the moment for the Sanhedrin of the Jews to face the truth. Would they follow the Savior now that he had come to atone for the sins of the world, or would they, like Israel in the days of Moses, worship in the way they always had before instead of turning to what God now offered them so freely? At Mount Sinai, they had chosen the golden calf—so familiar, so visible, so easy to understand! What Moses brought them was so different, so new, so invisible! Now at Mount Zion, they wanted to remain with Moses even though Moses himself had prophesied that the Savior would come one day. But the old way was so familiar, so visible, so easy to understand!

David wrote:

  “O you who hear prayer,
  to you all men will come.
  When we were overwhelmed by sins,
  you atoned for our transgressions.
  Blessed is the man you choose
  and bring near to live in your courts.”
(Psalm 65:2-4 NIV 1978)

Behold, O Sanhedrin. All men were flocking to Jesus. He alone atoned for transgression and sin. He is the one doing the choosing, calling his followers to come near and live with him forever in heaven. Will you listen, O Sanhedrin? Will you heed the call? How many pathways are there to everlasting life? What will you say to the Savior who says, “No one comes to the Father except through me”?

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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