“Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors.”
Brennan Manning from The Ragamuffin Gospel
We are twelve days in our Journey to Action! Wow! Can I tell you how much this series speaks to me personally? At every turn, with each passing page, I am forced to examine myself. My faithfulness, my willingness to go the distance, who I am at the center of my soul.
When we left the page yesterday our jailbirds had made a miraculous escape!
Then someone arrived with startling news. “The men you put in jail are standing in the Temple, teaching the people!” ~Acts 5:25 NLT
Without one whit of a thought as to how the escapees may have slipped past his post and out the door, off goes the Captain and his posse of over zealous temple guards stomping back to the scene of the crime. The crime being there own disbelief, blocked by the green eyed monster of jealousy.
Arriving at the Temple, they are forced to face facts; they are outnumbered.
So the captain of the temple guard and his officers went to arrest them once again, but without using force, for they were afraid the people would stone them. ~Acts 5:26 TPT
Bringing them back before the high counsel, where the hight priest confronts them. Again. I picture him a bit pompous, pacing back and forth, stomping his dusty sandals, spittle dripping from his mouth, fury radiating from his body. All of this fueled by his injured pride. Angry at their escape that went unnoticed, angry to find them back in the place he forbade them to go, speaking of things he had deemed unspeakable.
“Didn’t we strictly warn you that you were to never again teach in his name? But instead you have now filled all of Jerusalem with this doctrine and are committed to holding us responsible for this man’s death!” ~Acts 5: 28 TPT
Could it be there is some guilt pinching his conscious, stirring in his gut?
Again, Peter takes the lead.
“We must listen to and obey God more than pleasing religious leaders. You had Jesus arrested and killed by crucifixion, but the God of our forefathers has raised him up…We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who God freely gives to all who believe in him.” ~Acts 5:29,30,&32 TPT
This infuriates them.
The voice of reason steps in, with one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel. Gamaliel proceeds by reminding the counsel, “Hey fellows we have seen this before. A group moves to town, flooding it with a message, the crowd grows, and then they scatter. We do not want to be a party to murder, give it some time before we take drastic action. We’ll be dusting our hands of this pesky problem soon.”
I wonder if Gamaliel’s reasoning came from not wanting blood on his own hands, or, perhaps, he was stirred by Peter’s words. We meet up with Gamaliel later in our journey, and again, Gamaliel is the voice of reason.
And if not, there is always this:
“But if this movement is of God, you WON’T be able to stop it. And you might discover that you were fighting God all along!” ~Acts 5:39 TPT (emphasis mine)
Peter and the apostles are spared death, but do not escape punishment.
The Apostles are sentenced to flogging. Most likely they received thirty-nine blows to naked flesh with a leather whip. For forty blows was meant to kill.
Blood splatters the room, splatters their faces, this band of ragged and tattered men of God. They look on as first one and then the other is stripped and striped, their flesh cut into, thirty-nine times. Blow after blow, thirty-nine, landing one on top of the other.
Stalwart in their commitment.
Did they depart this heinous crime, shriveled, defeated, begging the pain to stop?
The apostles left there REJOICING, THRILLED that God had considered them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. AND nothing stopped them! ~Acts 5: 41&42a TPT (emphasis mine)
They were grateful. Grateful for the privilege to show their love for Jesus by enduring pain on his behalf!
When was the last time I rejoiced in suffering? When was the last time you rejoiced in suffering?
Are we willing to suffer for The Cause of Christ?
Please sign up and receive my daily emails. You will not want to miss one step of this Journey to Action. Coming tomorrow: Day Thirteen~A Man Called Stephen.
I love this book, the concept, the stories, and the cover. The fact that I was invited to be tucked among the pages is an honor.
“If you only have one hour in the day to write, don’t spend it frustrated. Spend it writing.” ~@lisajobaker, #FMFbook
Gifts of Grace