Summary: We can tell where we are in our lives by looking at the map of God’s Word, as well as noticing landmarks which are characteristic of the particular path we are on. But we can change!
Passage: Acts 5:17-42
Intro: When it comes to navigation, some of us are map people and some are landmark people.
1. and some of us are hopeless!
2. map people like a nice visual representation, with street names and arrows
3. landmark people want “go to the McDonalds and turn left. Our house is green with purple windows.
4. on the path of life, God gives both!
5. we have His written word, which gives us clear directions.
6. He also gives us landmarks, signs that indicate which path we are on.
7. the city of Jerusalem was in an uproar in these weeks after Pentecost.
8. the real question was this: Was God working through the followers of Jesus Christ, or through the spiritual leaders of the nation of Israel?
9. the passage we have before us shows two groups on diverging paths.
10. the longer they walk, the further apart their paths get.
11. let’s look at the steps they are taking, the landmarks they are passing, so we can identify which path we are on.
12. great news is this: you can change paths.
I. Landmarks #1: Blind Jealousy or Obedient Faith
1. depending on who you were, things were either going great in Jerusalem, or they were out of control.
2. healings, transformed lives, signs and wonders
3. but the high priest and his friends did not share the enthusiasm.
4. v17, their response was jealousy,
5. numbers down, perhaps tithe redirected. Certainly they were not getting as much attention
6. they could not see God at work and rejoice, because they were blind to Him
7. this kind of jealousy is a response to the loss of power, prestige, influence.
8. in contrast, the apostles were joyfully obedient to Jesus, teaching and healing
9. there are basically two groups:
10. one group does the work of God, are obedient to God.
11. the other group seeks to stop them, discourage them, resist them.
12. many times, the loss of power and jealousy results in an escalation of hostility
II. Landmarks #2: Intimidation or God’s Intervention
1. they had tried reason to silence the apostles, now tried jailing them
2. not just John and Peter, but all the apostles. V18
3. the plan was simple. Bring them in to face the entire 70 member Sanhedrin, the same group that had convicted Jesus.
4. it would be very intimidating, especially stumbling in after a night in jail.
5. morning after arrest, sent a delegation to bring these men in, but surprise!
6. v23, jail door locked tightly, guards in place, but no apostles.
7. in fact, they had not scattered to the four winds, as escaped prisoners are apt to do, but went right back and picked up where they left off! V25
8. here is the opposing landmark: God’s powerful intervention.
9. in this case, He sent an angel who released the whole group and re-commissioned them to teach.
10. and that’s exactly what they did.
11. it had to be a little humiliating for the High Priest, calling this special session to strike terror into the apostles, but God had other plans.
12. and this was the grace of God…to the Sanhedrin!
13. it became another in a long list of signs and wonders that God did right in front of them!
14. since they had convicted Jesus and conspired to have him crucified, things had gone very badly for them.
15. miracles Jesus did, earthquake at His death, resurrection and appearances, transformation of apostles, healings and signs and wonders, and now a jailbreak!
16. God is calling them to stop intimidating and start believing.
17. those against God will seek to intimidate, threaten.
18. God will act on behalf of His servants.
19. the Bible is full of stories just like this one, with the resurrection of Jesus Christ at the top of the list.
Il) rain storm for Bible smugglers at Russian border.
III. Landmark #3: Anger or Truth Telling
1. once they rounded up the apostles, they got down to business.
2. their frustration was in response to a couple of things.
3. first, the apostles would not stop teaching
4. second, they were teaching something that caused deep personal pain for the Jewish leaders.
5. v28 “guilty of this man’s blood”
6. the OT is very negative about the “shedding of innocent blood.”
7. 13 specific statements, here’s one
8. even Judas recognized that he had “betrayed innocent blood”
PP Matthew 27:4
9. the apostles response to this accusation? They rehearsed the facts. V30-32 God said Jesus was innocent!
10. and as far as teaching, God had told them to do it.
11. the facts showed that they were not on the side of God, which would have cut them very deeply. And it did!