Raw Reflections from the Journey

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Acts 5 - Sudden death, harmony, additions, healing, jail break and a whipping

Could a single chapter pack any more information? The happenings in Acts 5 are worth an entire book!

First, there’s the duplicity of Annanias and Saphira. Bad choice to lie about money…not sure all the lessons to be learned, but The Message puts it this way, “God is not to be trifled with.”

It is interesting how this couple would dare to be duplicitous in the context of all they’d probably seen. They’d probably witnessed at least the results of the descent of the Holy Spirit onto and into the Apostles and all who were saved, the healings done by Peter and others, etc.

Striking them dead seems an Old Testament behavior by God, and not the grace-walk of Jesus who liberated sinners from death sentences (e.g., the woman caught in adultery). So why this severe response?

One thought is that He wanted to protect the purity of the fellowship that had just begun by sending a stern message about fidelity to Him and His way as the imperative for His presence and power in their lives; ‘follow me wholeheartedly and you will really, really live (preach, teach and heal in ways that compel others to live for me too), but live for self and manage your own affairs with your own wisdom instead of mine and you will die; sooner or later you will die.’ Both NT and OT teaching is about the destructive consequences of sin…so perhaps He thought it was a good timely and not so metaphorical reminder?

Then there’s the harmony of the believers. How did that happen? My thought is that it was the side effect of their focus worshipping Jesus and doing the Great Commission. Have you heard that a peace-time Army turns inward and has a lot more conflict during peace-time than during war? During war it comes together to work toward common goals, but in peacetime there is time and space to pick fights about essentially inconsequential matters…to me this is a possibly accurate analogy re: what it takes for harmony; focus on the main thing.

Then there’s a curious statement, “But even though people admired them a lot, outsiders were wary about joining them. On the other hand, those who put their trust in the Master were added right and left, men and women both.”

Why were they admired? For their steadfastness in the face of persecution? For the remarkable signs and wonders they performed? For their unity, harmony, generosity? All are unusual spectacles for sure. And it was pretty radical, “…outsiders were wary about joining them…” BUT, those who put their trust in Jesus were added right and left. Seems that once they had revelation of Jesus being who He said He is that fears about being identified as part of the persecuted “WAY” fell away. The remarkable unparalleled Jesus was worth following even if it cost them.

Healings were 100% it seems. WOW! Can you imagine how crowds would flock for such healing today? It seems that in the west we hear of an isolated miracle here and there but not entire outbreaks….why? If it happens at all couldn’t it happen en masse?

Jail break – if it was me breaking out I’d be laughing hysterically. “What’s next? Isn’t this a hoot? Can you imagine having any more fun? They can scold us, warn us, jail us, but unless they kill us they aren’t going to silence us or stow us away!” And don’t miss this point: The angel that opened the jail house door and led them out gave instructions to be followed immediately, “Go to the temple and take your stand. Tell the people EVERYTHING there is to say about this life!” Wow, now that must have taken awhile. That’s a lot to tell! And note that they were freed for a purpose, to proclaim the Gospel. We too are freed from sin for purpose, to make Him known and to walk fully and wholeheartedly in The Way.

And finally there’s another scolding, warning, and a whipping. “That ought to silence them…physical pain.” But the irrepressible disciples have an answer for that one, too!

“The apostles went out of the High Council overjoyed because they had been given the honor of being dishonored on account of the Name.”

Nothing was going to stop the spread of the good news and the growth of the number of those who would join “The WAY”. Nothing ever has…and nothing ever will!

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