Obey God Rather than Man
Great things have been happening in Jerusalem over the recent few weeks. Jesus’ followers witnessed His crucifixion, His resurrection, His ascension, and the Day of Pentecost. The church, made up only of Jews, had to wonder, “Is this the beginning of the Kingdom?”
When Peter healed a handicapped man at the gate called Beautiful leading into the temple, the man jumped up after decades of paralysis and danced in the street. Every good Jew knew in the Kingdom, the lame shall leap, according to Isaiah 35:6. Many caught the significance of this miracle and knew this could actually be the beginning of the Kingdom.
But tragically, the nation Israel did not accept Jesus Christ. If they looked just a little down the road, they would see judgment coming. In less than 40 years, Jerusalem will be destroyed, killing over a million people. But today, at the gate called Beautiful, they are given their final chance to accept the Messiah.
But some individuals did believe. When Peter preached about who Jesus is and what really happened with His death, resurrection, and ascension, over five thousand men believed (plus their wives and families).
All this attention stirred up the religious leaders and, before the day was over, they arrested Peter and John and tossed them in prison. On what grounds? The preaching of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Sadducees didn’t believe in resurrection and now became the new church’s enemy. They hated the message of the Cross. Before the council Peter asks, “Are we on trial for the good deed we did for the sick man?” Then he went on, “We did this miracle in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who you crucified, and who God raised from the dead.”
The Sanhedrin couldn’t deny a miracle had taken place. They released Peter and John. Once back with the church, Peter and John told their story and everyone responded with faith. Together they asked God for boldness to continue sharing His Word. They didn’t pray for the persecution to cease but for the courage to endure it.
The apostles continued to preach and heal people. When the Sadducees heard about it, they arrested them again and put them into prison.
But they didn’t stay there. During the night, an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life in Christ.” So, at daybreak, the apostles did as they were told.
Meanwhile, back in court, the Sanhedrin sent for the apostles from prison. But the guards discovered their cell, locked and empty. Soon, word came about them preaching again at the temple. Guards escorted the apostles back to the Sanhedrin.
As they stood before the court, the Chief Priests said, “Didn’t we give you strict orders not to teach in Jesus’ name? And here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are trying your best to blame us for the death of this man.”
Then Peter answered, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (5:29).
The religious leaders were furious with Peter’s defense and immediately plotted how to kill them. Then a respected Pharisee, Gamaliel, persuaded them to let the apostles be. “If this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—unless you want to fight against God.”
The council thought this was a good plan, but just to be hateful, they beat the apostles and told them never to talk about Jesus again. Then they let them go.
So the apostles left the prison, rejoicing they were counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus’ name. They continued to teach and proclaim Jesus Christ every day in the temple and in every house. They couldn’t stop telling everyone and anyone about the beautiful name of Jesus Christ.
Next, meet a man you’ll never forget—Stephen, the first one to die for Jesus.