27 They brought the apostles to the Sanhedrin. The high priest questioned them. 28 “We gave you clear orders not to teach in Jesus’ name,” he said. “But you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching. You want to make us guilty of this man’s death.” 29 Peter and the other apostles replied, “We must obey God instead of people! 30 You had Jesus killed by nailing him to a cross. But the God of our people raised Jesus from the dead. 31 Now Jesus is Prince and Savior. God has proved this by giving Jesus a place of honor with him. He did it to turn Israel away from their sins and forgive them. 32 We are telling people about these things. And so is the Holy Spirit. God has given the Spirit to those who obey him.” 33 When the leaders heard this, they became very angry. They wanted to put the apostles to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up in the Sanhedrin. He was a teacher of the law. He was honored by all the people. He ordered the apostles to be taken outside for a little while. 35 Then Gamaliel spoke to the Sanhedrin. “Men of Israel,” he said, “think carefully about what you plan to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared. He claimed he was really somebody. About 400 people followed him. But he was killed. All his followers were scattered. So they accomplished nothing. 37 After this, Judas from Galilee came along. This was in the days when the Romans made a list of all the people. Judas led a gang of men against the Romans. He too was killed. All his followers were scattered. 38 So let me give you some advice. Leave these men alone! Let them go! If their plans and actions only come from people, they will fail. 39 But if their plans come from God, you won’t be able to stop these men. You will only find yourselves fighting against God.” 40 His speech won the leaders over. They called the apostles in and had them whipped. The leaders ordered them not to speak in Jesus’ name. Then they let the apostles go. 41 The apostles were full of joy as they left the Sanhedrin. They considered it an honor to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. 42 Every day they taught in the temple courtyards and from house to house. They never stopped telling people the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
The Pharisees desperately wanted to stop the apostles from telling people about Jesus. The apostles had filled Jerusalem with their teaching and made the Pharisees look guilty of the death of, not only an innocent man, but the actual Son of God. Consequently the Pharisees were furious and wanted to put the apostles to death.
Then Gamaliel, one of the Pharisees, steps in and says one of the most profound statements that resonates with wisdom some 2000 years later. “Leave these men alone…for if their purpose is from human origin it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourself fighting against God”.
Well, with the benefit of hindsight we see that Gamaliel was absolutely right. The apostles purpose in preaching the resurrection of Jesus was not from human origin and therefore certainly did not fail, but continues to live on to this day.
This actually gives me great comfort. I want to live my life right in step with His plan, but sometimes I find myself wondering if my pursuits are ‘from human origin’ or ‘from God’. I think that the wisdom of Gamaliel can be applied to my life as well. If what I am putting my energy to is from human origin it will not stand the test of time, but if it is from God nothing will be able to stop it from coming to pass.
In the end, nothing can stand in the way of the plans of God, both for the world and for my life. There are often set-backs and obstacles along the way, and, of course, life does not always go the way that I think it should. But today I am encouraged by looking back on the history of the Big Story that I am privileged to a part of. Nothing will be able to stop it!
Written by Shelley Witt