The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 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. – Acts 5:41-42
So, what impact are you making in someone’s life for Christ? Let’s just recognize something about the Apostles in the book of Acts. What the Apostles are doing is extraordinary. It is “Extra Ordinary!” Many of the things we see the Apostles do are things we could not imagine to be able to do. People were healed in droves as they came to them.
And, to be fair to them they were the second part to an amazing beginning. Jesus had made a massive impact on the land of Israel, now His disciples are being sent to build upon what the Christ had started. Yet, they were the beginning of something they couldn’t even fathom the reach that it has today.
Pour into someone’s today, so that someone else can have a tomorrow!
You may not be doing the super natural things that we see as we read in Acts, but you can be the beginning of something amazing! You can do something that you may not fathom at this point in your lives. As much as we love the monument worthy historical stories, someone had to do something to start the story.
The disciples had to do a few things before the Extra-Ordinary lasting things would come. They had to live a life that that showed what they believed. And, they had to speak about what they believed no matter the cost. That is the other side to most memorable parts of history, there were trials, obstacles, and pain for those who made it; there was a cost.
What you also may not realize is that you can do everything right and in an Extra-Ordinary fashion and or ordinary fashion and people still will not join you, even if they respect you. In Acts 5:13 you see that people were hesitant to join them even though they were so impressed with all they did.
No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. –Acts 5:13
People did continually come to believe in Jesus and the number of those who believe did continue to rise. This was because of the continued efforts of those who believed and the Apostles.
But, even when people respect you and people join you, some people may still oppose, reject, and attack you simply for living for Jesus. It may not be as severe as what the Apostles endured, but it may be as impactful as losing a friend or becoming distant from one who has been close to you. The reward of heaven is paid for by Christ it is not something we earn or have earned, instead of a reward standing up and speaking about what Jesus commands often has a cost when others do not agree.
Acts 5:12-42 speaks to this in vivid detail. The disciples had endured a great deal at this point. There had been a lot of major events for the apostles since the moment where Jesus died on the cross, not to mention how He raised from the dead and then rose to heaven before their eyes. Now the disciples are leaders, showing others who Jesus is!
The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. - Acts 5:12-14
Did you catch that? “…even though they were highly regarded by the people.”
If you remember, Peter and the apostle had healed a lame man which lead to them being arrested and threatened. Now people from all over the area were coming to Jerusalem to plead with Peter and the apostles to heal them and free them from their ailments. Although people were believing in Jesus more and more because of what the Apostles did, there was continued resistance. And so, the Apostles were arrested.
So again, let’s recap the fact that Jesus had recently been killed although the people loved Him and flocked to Him because of what He did. They cheered Hosanna and praised Jesus as King as He entered the city of Jerusalem a week before murdering him. The Jewish leadership may fear mobs during the day when people gather, but they have proven they will take you at night with their own mobs if they feel so inclined.
Now the Apostles are in prison during the night awaiting their second appearance before the very same people who had killed Jesus.
But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” – Acts 5:19-20
What do you do with your second chances to talk about Jesus, when told not to?
These guys were free. Stop and think about that. Yes, the angel of the Lord had come and given them a direct command about what to do next as He freed them. But, they were freed from the very people who notoriously were okay with killing those who challenge their authority and power because of all that they have invested in it. The Apostles are free!
This is that life moment that you must think about. You’ve stood up and talked about Jesus, you may have even gotten a weird look or two. You’ve done enough, right?
Well, that’s the question. How many times should you stand for Jesus? During how many circumstances is it appropriate to speak up about who Jesus is and how we need Him for salvation? We all can easily say that we need to always speak about Jesus and live for Jesus, but do we fully appreciate the cost and what we might lose if we do? Do we fully appreciate what might be gained if we speak about Jesus raising from the dead to give you and I eternal life?
The reason to repeatedly bring up Jesus capture and recent death from the leaders is because Peter does. In Acts 3:15 we read Peter address the people saying, “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” Then again as Peter addresses the captors he was freed from during the night and then brought before again by guards saying, “The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:30-32). It was a constant subject that Peter addressed and that the Apostles were wholly aware of.
Now before Peter and the Apostles are brought before the leaders again to say their profound and intense statements they have a chance at freedom a chance to run. Before they are able to make such a lasting impact on the past 2000 years of history, they have a chance to walk away having only a few scars and hurtful words spoken to them. They were commanded to do something, but they still had a choice to make. Their choice was kind of like Jonah’s, but the large aquatic animal and vomiting was unnecessary.
How often do we have a chance to tone down what we believe or walk away from an opportunity to stand for Jesus? How often are there moments where living for Jesus and explaining why we live and love like we do would be awkward for us and potentially hurtful to others and so we stay quiet? You have been commanded to share your faith with others and you have a choice to make.
Is your potential loss worth more or less than another’s gain? Yes, gain. Even if the person you share Christ with goes through the same loss you are about to, have they not gained something larger than life itself? Is Christ, the author of life and creator of everything, worth more than your everything in all creation?
That’s what Peter and the other Apostles knew the answer too. They knew that they “…must obey God rather than men.” They understood that their obedience to God was worth more than anything they could gain apart from walking away. They knew that others knowing about who God is, is worth more than any price they could ever pay.
What cost is too big for you?
You may never have to be placed in front of the very people who threatened and killed the God of universe in human flesh, but you will be rejected, cause frustration, and be looked at awkwardly. You know how many times I have used a meme of Captain America saying “Language”? A lot. And, because I use Captain America it is accepted, and even laughed at, but it is different when you speak about Jesus Jesus.
How awkward is it when someone makes an inappropriate joke for you to look at them and say, that’s not appropriate, kind, or loving especially when you wanted to snicker at it? How uncomfortable is it to say sex and all sexual acts and thoughts outside of marriage are wrong? How out of place would you feel with your friends if you stood up for these things?
But, being the living Gospel is more than this. When was the last time you didn’t just stop your friends from making fun of someone awkward or inappropriate, but instead did more than that, you discussed how to care for them even when they persist in being inappropriate? Do you discuss with your friends how the God of the universe calls you and me to be more loving, or is that a discussion reserved for closed doors in small groups or at church?
You, me, and all of us have regular opportunities to stand up for Jesus! We have numerous opportunities to show how much someone is worth to the King of kings.
We have opportunities to show our love for Him through our actions and our words to others. We can choose together to intentionally act in such a way that honors Him. We can plan actions that love others and even just randomly be kind to people in those unforeseen moments. The question is not if the costly and uncomfortable moments to love others for Jesus come, the question is what will you do when they come?
Jesus died on the cross and rose to give us eternal life so that we would live for Him with new life. And, our new life is meant to be lived so that others can come to know Him who for our sake suffered and died in order to rise and give us hope eternal.
Often times we think that our growth in godliness, our sanctification, is about making us more holy. Well, our holiness has already been declared, that’s what we call justification. Our actions and our words are meant to be the light that declares God’s greatness and love for Him and others. Our holiness, or God setting us apart from the world, is meant to express only more urgently what He is offering for eternity!
Our lives whether we are suffering or not are given to us in order that we might help others know the Lord.
…They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 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. – Acts 5:40-43
The apostles rejoiced that they were worthy to suffer disgrace! Suffering disgrace for the name of Jesus. They were not rejoicing over any and all typical suffering or disgrace. They were willing to suffer physical trauma and public shame for the name of Jesus!
Yes, the apostles were shamed. They were put in prison, they were removed from the temple by guards, they were then brought before the leadership for questions, and the whole of the city knew. They were beaten to scare them from speaking about Jesus, they were rebuked by those whom just a few years prior they revered as the one who knew God best.
As we look at the tremendous holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus we must remember that the reason Christ was born was to die and then to rise to give us eternal life! We are called to new life in him so that others can know Him. He came into the world knowing the cost to save us. Do you recognize what your costs are in order to give grace to others?
Remember how this started. The apostles started a historical moment! They transformed many lives for eternity, but they also helped others do the same thing. When you stand for Jesus and share him with others those whom you help know God will help others know God! The gain from what you go through today will reap dividends that you could never even imagine!
So, how have you impacted someone’s life this week?