Sunday 16 February, 2020

Acts 5:27-42

27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” 40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming 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

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