April 15, 2020 – Wednesday
Acts 5:12-16 NIV
12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade.
13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people.
14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.
15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.
16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
Spent a good bit of time finding out what ‘Solomon’s Colonnade’ is and it turned out to simply be a series of columns supporting a roof along one side of the temple. It may be thought of as a porch not attached to a house or building. Likely used to provide relief from the sun. Various photos may be found here. Specifically, it was where teaching was allowed and Jesus and His disciples taught there. Our verses today find the apostles and believers there.
Notice there is no mention of persecution in the verses above. The persecution followed immediately afterwards the next two verses show: 17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord freed them and gave them instructions to return to the temple courts and preach the good news which they did (v19-21a).
When the Sanhedrin called for the apostles to be brought to them, it was discovered they were missing with the jail doors still locked and guarded. Confusion reigned until someone reported they were teaching in the temple courts. The captain and his officers brought the apostles before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. The following interchange occurred:
28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Of course this infuriated them and they wanted to put the apostles to death. One Pharisee, Gamaliel, spoke up and persuaded them not to do so, whereupon they instead had the apostles flogged, ordered them not to speak of Jesus, and let them go. Their orders and flogging had no impact as the following verses show:
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
They rejoiced! Why? Because they had been found worth of suffering for the Name of Jesus! They rejoiced in their persecution. How incredibly odd to our modern mind … or is it? In his book ‘The Insanity of Obedience’ (subtitled Walking with Jesus in Tough Places) Nik Ripken shows it may be odd to our western minds, especially in the USA where persecution remains fairly minimal, but such rejoicing still occurs in many parts of the world today.
Our prayers should be for our brothers and sisters who do face great persecution for their faith in Jesus while standing firm in their faith and even rejoicing in the midst of their persecution. And prayers for ourselves should we one day face great persecution for our faith in Jesus that we would stand firm and rejoice as well.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton