Summary: This message deals with one of the consequences of following Jesus: Suffering!
I’m encouraged today by the fact that 12 of our Brethren were not side-tracked by the Success Syndrome. To the Apostles of the First Church of Jerusalem, SUCCESS WAS SUFFERING SERVICE. Which leads me to conclude that the Success of a Person or Church is not determined by Praise but by Pain; not by Accolades and Applause but by Agony; not by Seniority but by Suffering! I agree with Dr. King who said, “Longevity has its place.” Yes, to live a long time, to achieve seniority has its place. But I also concur with Cowper who deduced that one who has seniority can “Let down buckets into empty wells and grow old with drawing nothing up.”
Consequently, I conclude that Success is predicated upon God’s Prevailing Purpose, and a Person’s Obedience to that Purpose in terms of Suffering Service. And so, I desire to Serve today as a Servant who Suffers for his Savior.
Here we are once again to discuss what’s going on underneath our skin. So, WE NEED TO TALK! Let’s discuss -
“BADGES OF HONOR”
The Scriptural basis for my theological argument is Acts 5:41. It says (read).
In our target text, Luke immediately zooms in on 12 Men Possessing A Character whose Content Counted. Luke says in verse 41, “They” (these 12 men alone as distinguished from all others in that hall) were the only ones with A Content of Character that Counted. There were at least 72 other men in that room; for the Sanhedrin Council consisted of 72 men who were required by law to be morally and physically blameless. And we know the commander of the Temple police was present along with some of his armed guards from verse 26. So at least 80 other men were present in that room, but only these 12 men possessed a Character whose Content Counted! For in the Greek Text “These men” or “they” is emphatic: meaning, the emphasis of the sentence is upon the character of these men and no others. “These men or they” referring back to the apostles in verse 40.
And then again in verse 41 Luke high-lites the Consequential Conduct of Counted Character in that descriptive verb “departed.” This verb in the Greek pictures these 12 men of Counted Character alone “going, leaving or departing.” They, upon being released from custody by the Sanhedrin, as a Necessary Consequence, Departed. They were departing alone; no one else left but these 12 Apostles of Counted Character.
I think we need to look at THEIR CONSEQUENTIAL CONDUCT because in their leaving, these men are exemplifying THE DISCIPLINE OF DEPARTURE. There are Two Reasons I thought it would be helpful for us to scrutinize this Discipline of Departure as modeled by these 12 Men of Counted Character.
The First reason being they had been taught this Discipline of Departure by the Master Himself. And I’m sure you would agree that Jesus certainly Knew How To Leave! First, He shared this principle with them by word of mouth. Matthew 10:14 records Jesus saying to them in places of hostility and rejection: “and whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when ye depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.” And then in verses 24 & 25, He continues explaining the discipline saying: “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master.” And then He arose and fleshed it out for them giving the pattern; for in Matthew 11:1 it says: “When Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.” Mark 1:38 records after Simon and two others had disturbed His prayer time with “Everyone is looking for You,” said Jesus, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also…” Then in Mark 5:17, after the people of the country of the Gadarenes pleaded with Jesus to depart from their region after He had de-demonized the man who lived among the tombs, verse 21 of Mark 5 says that “Jesus crossed over again by boat to the other side.” JESUS KNEW HOW TO LEAVE! AND HE TAUGHT HIS DISCIPLES HOW TO LEAVE! So back in our text-Acts 5:41, Luke writes “And they departed from the presence of the council.” No insults or threats - They Just Left! No waiting around for an apology, but upon being released - They Just Departed!
Therefore, the Second Reason we need to scrutinize this Discipline of Departure is because MOST OF US DON’T KNOW HOW TO LEAVE! To depart is one of the hardest things for us to do. For there are times when we stand grappling with the Difficulty of Departing. When visiting friends or family, we don’t know how to leave; for we say ‘Good-bye’ and still linger and talk, shuffling our feet and looking at our watches. Often when talking on the phone, we don’t know how to just hang up; for we say “good-bye’ and then start up a new conversation. Sometimes we don’t know how to just leave the church house; for we linger and talk long after services are over. Don’t let us get fired from a job and be told to leave; we’ll hang around trying to get that last word in-”I quit!” Many of us have difficulty leaving Toxic Relationships. We can’t seem to leave healthy, we have to leave hurt and broken. Some have difficulty leaving an unhealthy church environment; we’ll hang around until it kills us! Yeah, We Don’t Know How To Just Depart! We have to exchange words, trade insults, hurl threats and wait around for an apology that never will come - WE CAN’T JUST LEAVE!