Lent 2023 Day 22: Sat 18 Mar
Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. ‘Go, stand in the temple courts,’ he said, ‘and tell the people all about this new life.’
At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin – the full assembly of the elders of Israel – and sent to the jail for the apostles. …Then someone came and said, ‘Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.’
…The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. ‘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.’
Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead – whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.’
The whole group are arrested and detained, but not for long. God will not be thwarted by people. They are released by an angel who tells them to continue their work, and so, the next morning, they carry on where they left off. They do not tell the people about their miraculous escape. They do not talk about the angel. They talk about Jesus and the new life he offers.
The authorities are unaware of what has just happened, and they call the whole assembly for another inquisition, only to find that the apostles are not where they left them the night before. It seems that they were not amazed at their escape/release and didn’t ask how they did it – they were more annoyed that their instructions were not being obeyed.
I cannot believe that those present were not aware that something very special was going on. They could see that their own structures and hierarchies were invalid, but they didn’t want to cede their power base. They were also jealous of the apostles, who were reaching more deeply into the lives of people than ever the Sanhedrin was. They had to do what they could to quash this outbreak.
Orders and threats washed over Peter. He responded in the same way he’d responded before, fearlessly following his calling and calling the Sanhedrin to repentance.
Why didn’t Peter just tone down on the “you killed Jesus” issue? Was it that important?
Father God, I confess that to share my faith might result in little more than being mocked, yet there may be someone I know or meet who is longing to hear words that will bring them eternal life in Jesus. I offer you my cowardice – would you exchange it for compassion? Amen.