Have we done anything worthy of a flogging? For the apostles, this was a reality. They were flogged because they spoke in the name of Jesus. Do floggings still happen in our current reality? Floggings do happen because of people speaking in the name of Jesus Christ.
In 2012, Saeed Abedini was visiting his family in Tehran and developing an orphanage in Iran. The Revolutionary Guard took Saeed captive in September 2012. Since then he has been tortured and endured weeks of solitary confinement. Yet, this American pastor held in Iran must be still talking about Jesus. He has been held now for three years in an Iranian prison. He has five more years to serve for being a Christian who is willing to speak about Jesus. (http://beheardproject.com/saeed)
When we are not legally allowed to speak about Jesus Christ, what are we going to do? This is a question the apostles had to answer. It was not long after Pentecost when the apostles were thrown in jail. They were jailed because the Sadducees were jealous of all the people following the apostles’ teaching. I think the Sadducees were in for a major surprise.
Sometime during the night, an angel of the Lord broke the apostles out of prison! How about that! Then the angel told them to go back to the Temple and speak the whole message about this life. So, the apostles did just that. The next morning they went right back to the temple and spoke about Jesus.
A. The captain of the Temple guards and the chief priest didn’t know what was going on
1. Keystone Kops
2. They were afraid of the people!
3. The religious authorities were facing something new. They had power to decide religious matters. But now there were being defied. This upset the Sadducees tremendously. They wanted to know what the apostles were doing still speaking in the name of Jesus.
B. The apostles explain what is going on (5:27-32)
1. “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”
2. This Jesus whom you had killed, God raised him from the dead
3. Not only is he alive, but Jesus is also Leader & Savior
a. Leader – “prince”
b. Savior – (1st time mentioned in Acts)- not only Lord, but he saves people from sin
4. He gives repentance to Israel & forgiveness of sins (also to us)
5. They were not rebelling for political reasons. The apostles were obeying God by speaking about Jesus! In obeying God, the apostles were opposing the Sadducees. This was not a rebellion to change the world because other people were upset. This was a rebellion that pointed people to God through faith in Jesus. But it was still a rebellion that the high priest and the Sadducees did not appreciate.
C. Gamaliel the Pharisee speaks some wisdom to the council (5:33-39)
1. I don’t think he was agreeing with Peter
2. Gamaliel wanted to see the work of the apostles fail
3. Other rebel leaders death brought the end to the rebellion
4. This convinced the religious leaders
5. This Pharisee was not defending the apostles. Gamaliel was making a case for preserving the power of the religious leaders! Yet, in a sense by attempting to preserve their power, Gamaliel reminded the Sadducees that it would not be good to oppose God! So, they had to warn the apostles one more time to not speak about Jesus.
D. After being flogged, the apostles keep on teaching about Jesus! (5:40-42)
1. Again, the apostles were ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus
2. This time they were flogged
3. What a reaction from the apostles! They rejoiced that they suffered for the sake of the name of Jesus!
4. They kept on teaching & preaching about Jesus
5. Can we be like that? Can we get in trouble for speaking about Jesus, and keep on preaching and teaching about Jesus? Oh, we rejoice when we get done suffering through a cold. How much greater will be our celebrating God when we suffer for speaking about Jesus? For it is through Jesus’ death that we receive life. It is through our suffering and dying in the name of Jesus that we find the reward for our faith.
Yes, being part of the living church means that we speak in the name of Jesus. Telling the fact about Jesus’ death and what that means for us is important. Do we know how important Jesus is?
Take time this day to think about Jesus. Think about his life, how he lived and died for us to know God. As we repent of our sins, as we turn toward God and not our own desires, that we find forgiveness for our sins. If we know that Jesus died for us to have freedom from our sins, then we can speak in the name of Jesus. We can say that Jesus is the Lord of our lives – he is now directing how we live. We can say that Jesus is the Savior – he is now delivering us from a life of sin.
The truth is that when we speak about Jesus, other Christians and the rest of the world will not like it. People will turn us over to the higher ups at work. People will make sure the authorities know about our speaking about Jesus. So be it. Then we celebrate God for allowing us to be worthy of suffering for the sake of the name.
We pray for Saeed to remain faithful to Jesus. He is suffering because he speaks about Jesus. May we find encouragement to speak about Jesus, even if we have to suffer.