Summary: Lessons to learn from when the apostles were set free from jail.
INTRO>On one of his European tours, master magician and locksmith Harry Houdini found himself locked in jail for improper actions. After he had been searched and manacled in a Scottish town jail, the old jail keeper shut him in a cell and walked away. Houdini quickly freed himself from his shackles and then tackled the cell lock. However, despite all his efforts, the lock wouldn’t open. Finally, completely exhausted, he leaned against the door...and it swung open so unexpectedly he nearly fell headlong into the corridor. The jail keeper had not locked it!
--Well, the guard did lock the apostles into the public jail in Jerusalem. But, by the next morning, they were out and about.
--I invite you to open a Bible and turn once again to Acts, chapter 5.
The event described in our text today proved to be a turning point for the early church, and I want to examine it today in three parts:
1) THE PAIN.
--We need to be aware of the pain going on inside the lives of those apart from Jesus.
--And what we see exhibited by the Sanhedrin are the same characteristics we can see in the lives of those who don’t yet know Jesus.
<>The Jewish leaders were JEALOUS of how the crowds were listening to the apostles.
--Ac.5:17 -- ”But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates...and they were filled with jealousy;”
---QUOTE>Dr. Gary Collins has rightly noted: “There is a distinction between jealousy and envy. To envy is to want something which belongs to another person. So, ‘you shall not covet your neighbor’s house, his wife, his donkey, etc.’ In contrast, jealousy is the fear that something which you possess will be taken away by another person. So, although jealousy can apply to our jobs, possessions, or reputations, the word more often refers to anxiety which comes when we’re afraid that the affections of a loved one might be lost to a rival. We fear that our mates, perhaps our children, will be lured away by some other person who, when compared to us, seems more attractive.”
-->The Sanhedrin was filled with jealousy because they feared a personal loss of power / authority over others...lost to the disciples.
----Ultimately it all came down to their focus being on themselves, their own personal “agendas” and desire for personal power.
<>They MISTREATED others.
--Ac.5:18 -- ”...and they laid hands on the apostles, and put them in a public jail.”
--Ac.5:40 -- ”...and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus...”
--In contrast to the actions shown in the lives of the Sanhedrin, when the Holy Spirit is at work within the heart of a man he is tender-hearted, forgiving of others, and shows compassion.
--Again, the consuming desire within the members of the Sanhedrin for self-exaltation and their drive to please their own interests made them callous, uncaring toward others and others’ feelings, even to the point of not caring whether the other persons lived or not.
--Even when it was made clear to them that the apostles were going to continue teaching about Jesus, no matter what the Sanhedrin “ordered” them to do (although they had no real authority to do so and the Sanhedrin knew they didn’t have that authority), they just couldn’t let the apostles go without a “good” flogging.
----Understand, most people wouldn’t have survived the flogging...it was brutal....vicious...unnecessarily cruel.
--Notice: the Sanhedrin didn’t think the flogging would stop the apostles, but they did it anyway because they were angry, and wanted to mistreat them.
<>They were WORRIED about the future.
--Ac.5:24 -- ”Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this.”
---ILL>Worry is well-understood by the comment of an elderly lady about it. Speaking about how worry affects our lives she told a younger person, “I’ve had a lot of trouble, most of which never happened!”
--But worrying about the future is a very prominent characteristic of those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus.
--Notice: when the apostles were not in the jail cell, as the Sanhedrin had expected them to be, the Jewish leaders’ thoughts were not so much on “how did they do it?,” but on “what might happen to us now?”
----They were afraid the crowds might be even more attracted to the apostles than before.
----After all, the Sanhedrin was supposed to be “in control,” and this would expose the fallacy of that sentiment.
--The temple guard was likewise afraid that now they themselves might be executed by letting a prisoner escape.
<>They were secretly AFRAID.
--Ac.5:26 -- ”...for they were afraid of the people, lest they should be stoned.”