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Uncomfortable Power

Acts 5:25-28
Then someone came and said, 'Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.' At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them. The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. '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.' (NIVUK)

It looked as though the apostles had escaped from prison. Instead of being locked up, awaiting the morning court session of the Sanhedrin, they were back in the temple, teaching about Jesus (Acts 19-21). Their joyful liberty mocked their forcible arrest the previous evening. So, with the admiring crowds around them in the morning sunshine, the guards fearing a riot did not manhandle them but asked them to walk with them to the court.

The opening statement by the chief priest revealed the insecurity of the religious leaders. They were angry and embarrassed that the apostles had flouted the court's order not to speak about Jesus (Acts 4:18), and were frightened that the crowd would accuse them of killing Jesus (Acts 2:23). They knew they were guilty but did not want to look guilty.

Peter, John and the other apostles had no interest in accusing the religious court of injustice, because it was through their injustice that God planned that Christ should die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. No, all the apostles wanted to do was to preach Jesus and the salvation which comes through Him (Romans 1:16). So why did the court feel guilty? The Holy Spirit was at work in them, using the apostles' witness to bring conviction of sin.

When you are persecuted for honouring Jesus, think what God is doing. It will not be pleasant for you, but the way you respond will be a witness that your accusers cannot deny. They will see that you have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Also, the Holy Spirit will be at work to convict sinful hearts (John 16:8). So, even through your discomfort, God is working in the hearts of the people who are making your life a misery. He loves them as much as He loves you, and wants to use your witness so that they may be convicted of their sin and repent also. Your presence at work or in the community will be an important reminder that Jesus is Lord. Although some will resist that, others will be convicted and saved.

Loving Father. Thank You for loving everybody, including the people who hate You and Your people. Forgive me when I react to difficulty in a way that minimises my discomfort rather than seeing it as a way of witnessing to the life of Christ in me. Please help me to be unashamed about my relationship with Jesus and allow the Holy Spirt to use my confidence to show my friends and colleagues that I believe Jesus is Lord. And I pray that You will save them. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams