Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christianity Threatened traditional Jewish Traditions

The Sadducees had already brought Peter and John before them and told them to no longer proclaim Jesus as the Savior. Peter and John responded by praising the Lord and continuing to spread the Good News. The people of Jerusalem continued to respond, even to the point where the sick were carried out into the streets and laid on cots and mats in order for Peter's shadow to fall upon them as he came by, hoping for healing. The Book of Acts states that "they were all cured."

The High Priest of the temple (A Sadducee) was "filled with jealousy" and arrested the Apostles and put them in prison to await punishment. However, in the night an Angel of the Lord "opened the prison doors, brought them out," and told them to "Go stand in the temple and tell the people the whold message about this life." Peter and the others returned to the temple and began to teach. Later that day the High Priest arrived and called together the council and all the Elders of Israel, and sent for the prisoners to be brought to them. The police returned and stated that the Apostles were no longer inside, but the prison had been "securely locked and the guards standing at the doors." He soon learned that they were in the temple teaching. Again they were arrested and brought before the council.

The High Priest accused them of teaching in Jesus' name and placing his blood (or death) upon the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem. Peter's answer, "We must obey God rather than any human authority." This angered the Priests, but Peter's next words almost signed his death warrent: "The god of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom YOU had killed by hanging him on a tree." Uh oh! When they heard this, "they were enraged and wanted to kill them."

Peter and the others were saved from death by a leader of the Pharisee's on the Council, Gamaliel. He warned of making them martyrs and causing even more trouble with the Roman rulers of Israel. He also warned that "if this plan is of human origin, it will fail, but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them- in that case you may even be found to be fighting against God."

The Council was convinced and had the Apostles flogged.

How did the Apostle's respond to the whipping, which split their skin, and the public humiliation?

They "rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name." And despite being told once more to not speak in the name of Jesus, they continued to "teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah."

What can we learn from this? We are called to go "boldly" to proclaim Christ the Savior to the world. We may face trials, tribulations, ridicule, or even physical threats and responses, possibly even death, but if we are listening to God's will and following his plan, we will never be "overthrown."

God never leaves us. He never abandons us. He is always there. Even after we have walked away from him. That is his forever, prevenient grace. He loved us before we were born, he loves us today, and he will love us tomorrow. We fail.

I know I fail often.

He never does.


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