Today we will look at Acts 5:17-42
5:17 Now the high priest rose up, and all those with him (that is, the religious party of the Sadducees ), and they were filled with jealousy. 18They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, 20“Go and stand in the temple courts and proclaim to the people all the words of this life.” 21When they heard this, they entered the temple courts at daybreak and began teaching.
Now when the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they summoned the Sanhedrin – that is, the whole high council of the Israelites – and sent to the jail to have the apostles brought before them. 22But the officers who came for them did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23“We found the jail locked securely and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24Now when the commander of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report, they were greatly puzzled concerning it, wondering what this could be. 25But someone came and reported to them, “Look! The men you put in prison are standing in the temple courts and teaching the people!” 26Then the commander of the temple guard went with the officers and brought the apostles without the use of force (for they were afraid of being stoned by the people).
27When they had brought them, they stood them before the council, and the high priest questioned them, 28saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name. Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood on us!” 29But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people. 30The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you seized and killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him to his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are witnesses of these events, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33Now when they heard this, they became furious and wanted to execute them. 34But a Pharisee whose name was Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the council and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. 35Then he said to the council, “Men of Israel, pay close attention to what you are about to do to these men. 36For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and nothing came of it. 37After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census, and incited people to follow him in revolt. He too was killed, and all who followed him were scattered. 38So in this case I say to you, stay away from these men and leave them alone, because if this plan or this undertaking originates with people, it will come to nothing, 39but if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them, or you may even be found fighting against God.” He convinced them, 40and they summoned the apostles and had them beaten. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. 41So they left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. 42And every day both in the temple courts and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus was the Christ.
“But if it comes from God, you will not be able to stop them”
I heard a story while growing up about some of the trouble my parents got into. The last time I heard it, my dad was claiming to have been there and his brother was vehemently denying that my father was there at all. Everyone was laughing, but it was fascinating to see the desire to be included in the historical record of the event. I strongly suspect that a number of the details became embellished over the years before I heard it, but this is the general story line:
A number of teenagers living in a small mountain town wanted to have some fun. There was some roadwork happening at the entrance to the town and they went to explore the area. After a good long climb up the hill they found the construction site and at that site they discovered some pieces of concrete pipe, large pipe as my memory serves me, perhaps in the neighborhood of 4’ diameter. It would be exciting to get it rolling! They managed to lever it out onto the road and turn it to role it along the road. This is the road that is at the top of the hill and enters the town. Once some things start, they are unstoppable.
The good news of Jesus is unstoppable. Once the word gets out, it will spread. What is amazing about it is that it is all true, no embellishments. The force of the gospel is fueled by the power of the Spirit. It will go out and accomplish everything that the Spirit wishes it to accomplish. The disciples were part of the story. The good news couldn’t be held back. Some tried, but failed.
The way I see it, we can passively sit by and watch the gospel spread or we can enter the story and be a part of it. And being part of this story is the most important thing we can do because this story goes on. It goes on and never ends. When you are part of this story, your life goes on in it and we live forever.
So, do you want to be a part of the story? Tell others about the great love of God for his creation. Show them that love in how you live and love them. Be a part of this story and live forever. Be a part of this story and help others to join you.
The story with the concrete pipe ends with only the concrete steps of the library getting hurt. This living story of following Christ never ends and people get saved.