March 24, 2002
A. [Scripture Reading]
John 12:12-15, The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! " "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!" 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, 15 "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt."
1. Today is the day that we celebrate as Palm Sunday and recall the people waving the palm leaves and crying "Hosanna."
2. Today is the day that we celebrate the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
B. [Songs of Praise]
"Majesty" "Hosanna, Loud Hosanna" "We Will Glorify the King of Kings"
C. [Lord’s Supper and Offering]
D. [Benjamin Franklin in remarks to the Continental Convention, June 28, 1787, as quoted in America’s God and Country, William J. Federer editor, Fame Publishing, Inc., Coppell, Texas. p.249]
"I have lived, Sir, a long time [81 years-old], and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God Governs in the affairs of men."
1. Now I realize that we have been told that the Founding Fathers of the US were deists and not Christians.
2. I know that we have been told that they just believed that there was a god who created the world, but then just lets it spin.
3. I know they tell us that this god doesn’t involve Himself in the world anymore now that He’s finished creating it.
4. I know that we’ve been told that when the Founding Fathers wrote about "Providence," this is really what they meant.
5. But I guess that Ben Franklin wasn’t told that definition of God.
6. "I have lived, Sir, a long time [81 years-old], and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God Governs in the affairs of men."
7. Oops I guess they didn’t want us to notice that little statement (but of course, this is exactly what the Founding Fathers believed and we have been lied to).
8. So what does it look like to have God Govern our lives?
9. What does it look like to have Christ as King of our lives?
10. Let’s look at the rest of Acts 5 today to find out…
I. Divine Laughter
Acts 5:17-25, Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 "Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life." 21 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. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 "We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside." 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this. 25 Then someone came and said, "Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people."
A. In a sense, this a pretty funny story…
B. Let’s review just a little…
1. You may recall that this is similar to something we’ve seen before.
2. Back in Acts 3, Peter and John healed a crippled beggar at the gate called Beautiful.
3. Peter then began to explain to the crowd that they had healed this crippled man by the power and name of Jesus.
4. Jesus had just been crucified a few months before.
5. And Peter told the people that Jesus had risen from the dead and it was He that had healed the cripple.
6. In Acts 4, The Sadducees arrested Peter and John and threw them in jail over night.
7. The Sadducees didn’t know what to do since the people had turned from shouting "Crucify" to really listening to Peter.
8. The Sadducees were afraid to do anything to Peter and John because they were afraid of what the people would do if they did.
9. So they simply threatened Peter and John and "commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus."
10. Peter and John were then released and they went back to the church and told them what had happened to them in the jail and in the court room.
11. The people decided to have a prayer meeting and asked God to give them the courage and the power to continue to speak boldly in the name of Jesus.
12. After they prayed, God shook the place and filled them all with the HS to tell them that He had heard and was going to answer their prayer.
13. And now we see Peter and John arrested again.
B. Now if we try to see all of this from the Sadducees’ perspective…
1. This Jesus person came into their territory and tried to tell people that what they had been teaching the people wasn’t true.
2. People began to follow Jesus and He was drawing some very large crowds and He was taking people away from the Sadducees.
3. On Palm Sunday, the people shouted "Hosanna," but during that same week, the Pharisees and Sadducees had convinced the people to shout, "Crucify."
4. They thought they had succeed in quickly getting rid of Jesus.
5. But now His followers were getting the same results.
6. So in Acts 4 they haul Peter and John in and remind them that they had crucified Jesus just a couple of months before and they’d better stop speaking about Jesus if they knew what was good for them.
7. Acts 4:33 then tells us, "With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all."
8. Then Acts 5:12 tells us, "The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people."
9. And Acts 5:14 says, "…more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number."
10. And Acts 5:15 says, "Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem…"
11. And now the Sadducees can see that the disciples had not listened to them and they were speaking more and more boldly.
12. And now we can see why 5:17 says, "Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy."
13. And it should come as no surprise that they threw Peter and John in jail again.
C. But then we also need to look at all of this from God’s perspective as well.
1. God had predicted Jesus’ death, so that part of the story was part of God’s plan.
2. It was very painful to God, but it was His plan.
3. And then of course God raised Jesus from the dead.
4. Then the disciples did exactly what Jesus had told them to do after He returned to heaven: they returned to Jerusalem and waited for the HS.
5. God sent the HS to the disciples and enabled them to speak in other languages and 3,000 people were saved.
6. The HS also enabled them to perform miracles.
7. Peter and John got arrested and were told not to speak at all in the name of His Son.
8. The good disciples prayed to God and asked Him to give them the boldness and power to continue to speak and testify about Jesus despite the threats of the government.
9. So God bends down and gives a shake to the building their in and stirs the HS within them to tell them that He’s proud of them and He’s going to take care of them.
D. Then we come to our text this morning…
1. Now the Sadducees arrest the apostles again and throw them into jail.
2. God’s already made it clear who’s side He’s on.
3. So now He messes with the Sadducees and the Sanhedrin.
4. God sends an angel to release the apostles even while the guards were there.
5. And the angel says, "Now go back and stand in the temple courts and tell the people full message (which includes the parts the Sanhedrin didn’t like—the FULL message).
6. So in the morning, the apostles go to the temple courts and start preaching.
7. Meanwhile the Sanhedrin comes together and sends for the apostles to come before them, but the apostles had disappeared from their cell.
8. Yes, the guards were still there and the cells were locked, but the apostles were gone.
9. Then someone comes into the court room and says, "Those scoundrels are back out there in the temple courts preaching the same stuff!"
10. HA! HA! HA! J Don’t ever try to tell me that God doesn’t have a sense of humor!
11. This is Divine laughter!
II. Divine Leading
Acts 5:26-32, At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them. 27 Having brought the apostles, they made them 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 men! 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead--whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."
A. Now after God played this little game with the Sanhedrin, God gives the apostles the right words to say during their trial.
1. You know from a human perceptive, the apostles were in a lot of trouble.
2. They were arrested once and told not to do it again.
3. They kept on doing it and were arrested a second time.
4. They escape from prison before their trial and returned to the Sanhedrin’s own temple and started preaching Jesus again.
5. You could imagine many people would be a little frightened in this situation—UNLESS you realized that God is directing all of this.
6. Now God steps in again and gives the apostles the right words to say through the HS.
B. The High Priest said, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet you have you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood."
1. The apostles said, "We told you we were going to obey God rather than you!"
2. "Whether you like it or not, God DID raise Jesus from the dead!"
3. "Whether you want to admit it or not, you DID crucify the very Son of God!"
4. "Now God has exalted Jesus to His own right hand (the seat of power and authority)."
5. "We know you don’t believe this, but we’ve seen these things with our own eyes."
6. "And God has given the HS to those who believe and it is through the HS that we are able to do what we do and it is clear that you don’t have the HS and that is why you can’t do the things we do."
7. God Divinely lead the apostles by giving them the right words to say at the time.
III. Divine Protection
Acts 5:33-40, 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 them: "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.
A. Were you surprised at verse 33?
1. It should come as no surprise to us that the Sanhedrin was furious!
2. Jesus came into their territory uninvited and started preaching in their territory and stealing many of their converts.
3. They finally convinced the people to crucify Jesus and they thought they were back in power.
4. But then here come the disciples preaching the same garbage that Jesus preached and the people were going back to the disciples and back to Christ.
5. They had a lot of political power and could put the apostles to death just like they had Jesus, but these apostles had the audacity to not be afraid of them.
6. They were getting right in their faces and making accusations against the Sandhedrin!
7. Who do these no accounts think they are?
B. [illustration, by A. Todd Coget, Pastor Somerset Christian Church, Greencastle, IN]
When I went to the Prayer Center last Monday, I was studying and praying over this text and I happened to look out the window.
The people who live at the Prayer Center have two dogs.
They are nice, friendly dogs to anyone.
But there was a neighbor’s dog that came into their territory and began marking their territory as its own.
One of the two dogs saw the dog urinating around in various spots and bent down and started the digging motion that dogs do when they are angry, scratching their feet along the ground and throwing dirt and grass out behind them.
The two dogs being invaded were furious, but they didn’t want to physically fight.
So they followed the other dog around and urinated everywhere it had urinated.
These dogs followed this stranger around peeing everywhere he did, trying to reclaim their territory.
And that is exactly how the Sanhedrin was acting: Jesus and His disciples were invading their territory and they were determined to follow them around and attempt to reclaim their territory.
C. The Sanhedrin was furious, but God gives some wisdom to a man by the name of Gamaliel.
1. Gamaliel was one of the most respected teachers of the law at the time.
2. And Gamaliel told this bunch of angry, jealous men that they ought to quit acting like dogs and let them go.
3. Gamaliel told them that if they weren’t from God, they would fail.
4. But Gamaliel said that if they were from God, they would be fighting God!
5. HELLO! Gamaliel hit the nail right on the head!
6. That’s EXACTLY what the Sanhedrin was doing: fighting against God.
7. So not only was God playing humorous games with the Sanhedrin, not only was he divinely leading the apostles, He was also divinely protecting apostles.
D. What did the Sanhedrin do in response to Gamaliel’s advice? They rode the fence.
1. They did let them go.
2. But not before they beat them.
3. And not before they childishly orderly them not to speak in the name of Jesus again.
4. But they did let them go.
IV. Divine Privilege
Acts 5:41-42, 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 Christ.
A. Now how did the apostles respond to this?
1. They were rejoicing!
2. They just got beat and they were rejoicing!
3. They could have gotten pretty upset with God for allowing them to get beat even though they were doing what God wanted them to do.
4. But they chose to rejoice.
5. They chose to rejoice because they had been counted WORTHY of suffering disgrace for the Name of Jesus!
6. They rejoiced that they had had the privilege of being beat for the Name of Christ.
7. Isn’t that an amazing attitude? They rejoiced because they were WORTHY of being beaten for Christ!
B. And do you think they stopped speaking about Jesus now?
1. "Day after day!"
2. "In the Sanhedrin’s territory: the temple courts"
3. "from house to house"
4. "they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news of Jesus."
5. Did you notice that they not only didn’t stop teaching Jesus, but they went right back to the temple courts and did it!
6. And I certainly pray that we will REPENT of our unbelief and pray for the boldness to go right back into the public schools and the court houses of America and NEVER STOP preaching Jesus!
7. And I pray that even if we are arrested for praying in the schools, we will NEVER STOP!
8. I pray that if we are beaten for talking about Jesus in public, we will NEVER STOP!
9. I pray that if we are put to death for preaching Jesus, we will NEVER STOP!
10. I pray that we will repent of this namby pamby Christianity that says we only need to live for Jesus and we don’t really need to talk about Him!
11. I pray that we REPENT of that garbage and NEVER STOP teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ—no matter whose territory we infringe upon!
12. But the disciples weren’t just dealing with their government, they were also dealing with religious leaders.
13. Sadly too many today aren’t even allowed to talk like this in their own church because there are people’s territories that we’re infringing upon.
14. But I pray that we will NEVER STOP talking about our Jesus, even if there are religious church leaders who don’t like it!
15. May it be said of us that Day after day, in the churches and in public places we will NEVER STOP teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ!"
16. Jesus is alive!
17. Jesus is our Savior!
18. Jesus still does miraculous things!
19. Providence still works in the lives of those who believe like the apostles did!
A. [Benjamin Franklin in remarks to the Continental Convention, June 28, 1787, as quoted in America’s God and Country, William J. Federer editor, Fame Publishing, Inc., Coppell, Texas. p.249]
"I have lived, Sir, a long time [81 years-old], and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God Governs in the affairs of men."
B. I don’t know about you, but I want God to have Providence and the sovereignty and the kingdom over my life like Benjamin Franklin spoke of and like the apostles had!
1. I want God to do humorous things with me to confound His enemies.
2. I want God to lead me and give me the appropriate words to speak for Him at the appropriate times.
3. I want God to protect me and my family.
4. I want to have a spirit that knows the privilege of being a servant of God.
C. How is that to happen? How do we make God the King of our own personal lives?
1. We have to believe that God wants to govern in our personal life. We have to believe that we are important enough in God’s sight for Him to want to govern OUR lives.
2. We have to acknowledge how much we need God.
3. We have to let go of everything that would prevent Him from having free reign in our lives: pride, selfish ambition, power, theology, control, comfort, etc.
4. We have to submit ourselves to His authority EVERYDAY!
5. Do you believe that God wants to govern your life?
6. Do you understand how much you need God in your life; do you need to acknowledge your utter dependence upon Him today?
7. What are the things in your life that you need to let go of in order for Him to have free reign?—If you can’t think of anything, you need to pray about that because you are not going to be able to mature if you don’t even know where God needs to work.
8. I believe all of us need to re-submit ourselves to God—starting today; right now!