From my 2016 Journal.
As I read Acts 5:16-6:15, I note a progression of violence, stemming from the Pharisees’ sin of unbelief, jealousy, and hard hearts. And the apostles’ responses are astonishing.
- The apostles are imprisoned.
- An angel frees them, and they return to preaching.
- Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin, beaten and let go.
- They continue preaching.
- Stephen is arrested, preaches to his audience, and is stoned.
- His last words are, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Obviously, I wasn’t in their shoes, driven by God’s command and with the Holy Spirit propelling me forward, but . . . if I were in their situation, my first response would most likely have been fear, hiding, and kowtowing to the Pharisees’ bullying to avoid further pain. Flogging can be rather incapacitating, don’t you think! I wonder if God healed them instantly? Or did they go through a month of recovery with no antibiotics and their wounds miraculously not becoming infected?
In the flesh, I would have struggled for being unjustly treated. I would have cried unfair and prayed for justice, a staying of the abusers’ hands, a change to my circumstances . . .
Instead, they rejoiced! Extremely counter-intuitive!
I could claim I, too, would have responded in a godly way, but I’ve never been put to the test like this. God prepared the Apostles for this hour. I can trust God to prepare me as well for anything I must endure.
P.S. In Acts 7, Stephen boldly told the Sanhedrin to their faces that they were stiff-necked, stubborn murderers. When is it appropriate to call someone out for their sin? Obviously, the Holy Spirit guided his words, but I cannot even begin to imagine talking that way—to anyone! It’s not my temperament or personality. I’d be asking them all, “What are you feeling? How does it feel to hear me preaching? Why are you jealous?” I guess that’s why God didn’t call me to be a prophet!