Summary: This is the story of the disciples going out with the authority of the Holy Spirit and teaching in Christ's name.
Teach in Christ’s Name
Sunday April 11, 2010
Our scripture today comes from Acts 5:27-32. I want to read that to you now.
27When the apostles were brought before the council, the high priest said to them, 28"We told you plainly not to teach in the name of Jesus. But look what you have done! You have been teaching all over Jerusalem, and you are trying to blame us for his death."
29Peter and the apostles replied:
We don't obey people. We obey God. 30You killed Jesus by nailing him to a cross. But the God our ancestors worshiped raised him to life 31and made him our Leader and Savior. Then God gave him a place at his right side, [a] so that the people of Israel would turn back to him and be forgiven. 32We are here to tell you about all this, and so is the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to everyone who obeys God.
We need a little back story for this to be in context. The story of Acts takes place around 65 to 70 years AD. It covers the beginning of the Church, and follows the disciples’ early struggles to spread the words and love of Jesus Christ. Our scripture comes in the middle of a larger encounter. It begins with the disciples, in particular Peter and John coming into the Temple in Jerusalem. There, they see a disabled man from birth begging for money. In due course they heal him. Many people witness this and are converted. As the two are teaching, the High Priests and Sadducees come into the temple and hear what they have done and what they are teaching.
They have them arrested and brought before the temple council. However, due to the large number of new believers, the council is unsure how to punish them with out starting a riot. So, basically, they tell them to stop preaching and teaching and that if they are caught again, they will be in real trouble.
Well, this slap on the wrist did nothing to dampen the resolve of the disciples who promptly went out among the growing crowds of believers and continued to preach, teach and heal.
As you could guess, this really upset the Jewish leaders. They had the disciples arrested again and thrown in jail. It was then an angel of the Lord came and led them out of jail and told them to continue preaching to the people in the temple. Now, when the leaders called for the disciples to trial, they were informed that not only were they not in the jail, but that they were back in the temple preaching. This is where our passage begins.
Let’s remember that this is the third time the disciples have been arrested inside of roughly 2 days. They have been warned in the strongest sense not to preach and teach Christ’s message. They have been warned that if they continue to do so, they may find themselves in very serious trouble, up to and including death.
Yet, they continued to preach. They continued to teach. They continued to share Christ’s love and compassion for each of his children as they encountered them. They completely failed to follow the order of the High Priests of the Temple. This would be akin to us failing to follow the law. I am not talking about getting a speeding ticket. They would be considered to have committed a felony in today’s lexicon.
They are even accused of attempting to have Christ’s death blamed on the chief priests of the temple. This would be like accusing a Senator or a Federal Judge. Not something to be taken lightly.
With all this, what do the apostles say? Basically, “Sorry guys, but we don’t answer to you. We follow God’s instructions, not yours.”
Can you picture the look on the faces of the priests? I am going to guess, and I know this is a real strong limb I am climbing out onto, they are not used to being talked back to. Usually, what they say goes.
But here are these guys; these guys who have failed to heed their first warning, who have escaped from jail with the door locked and the guards still in place, who have repeatedly shown these elite leaders little or no respect, standing in front of them again and flat out telling them to their face, go take a long walk off a short pier.
Again, I ask, can you picture the look on their faces?
The coup-de-gras; the disciples slap down on the table the authority with which they have continued to ignore the priest’s warnings.
Verse 32 “And we are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to all who obey him."