“They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5:40-42).
The venerable Rabbi, Gamaliel, advised the Sanhedrin to leave the apostles to God, at which, Luke wrote, “They took his advice.” Literally, “they were persuaded by him” – sort of. Before sending them out, they flogged the apostles, but it was no ordinary spanking. Luke used a word to describe a brutally violent lashing that laid open, tore away, or stripped off the skin. They flayed the apostles.
Then, they ordered the apostles “not to speak in the name of Jesus.” The word translated, “order,” refers to a military command regarding an abiding obligation. They brought to bear all the weight of authority they could muster to coerce the apostles to abandon the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If they had genuinely trusted God to deal with the apostles, the Sanhedrin would’ve let them go, possibly with a simple warning, as they’d done the first time. Instead, they stopped just short of killing the Christians, a standard the world has surpassed many times over. So, the precedent was established. They were persuaded that anything was acceptable to prevent the Christians from pursuing their ambition to preach Christ to every person alive.
The High Council showed the church the same consideration they’d shown the Lord of glory when Pilate had Jesus scourged before taking up His cross. Their hatred toward the church was consonant with their animosity for Christ. Throughout the following generations, the world would maintain a vigilant acrimony toward Christ and everyone who names His name.
Ironically, the apostles followed a different persuasion. They were persuaded that to endure the injury and ignominy of association with Christ was a high honor. So convinced were they that they rejoiced.
- To follow Christ puts us at odds with the world. The closer we walk in fellowship with Jesus, the more the world will hate us.
- The more we make much of Christ, the more intense will be the opposition.
- The more clearly we reflect Christ’s glory, the more plainly the world will resolve to silence us.
- The more earnest our resolve to follow Christ, the deeper our fellowship with Him will grow.
- The firmer our commitment to make much of Christ, the greater our fellowship with one another will grow.
- The closer we walk in fellowship with Christ, the closer we’ll grow to one another.
May it please the Lord to raise up a generation of saints who, like the first generation, will go head-to-head with the world to proclaim the gospel of grace today.