The apostles are still standing before the ruling council of the Jews. Moments before they were at risk of death, but now Gamaliel has talked the council out of killing them. “So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go”(Acts 5:39-40). There is much detail glossed over in the little phrase “they beat them.” Jewish law (Deut 25:1-3) allowed for people to receive up to 40 whippings for an offense. This is done by stripping them and beating them with rods across the back. Things have progressed past the stage when a mere warning would suffice.
There are two notable results from this suffering. “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name”(Acts 5:41). The first is that the apostles are joyful (!) that they are able to suffer for their association with Jesus. I wonder if they are thinking how they avoided such suffering the night Jesus was crucified. Yet they are not deterred by the power of the rulers. “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus”(Acts 5:42). The second is that the persecution does not stop them. They continue to defy the authorities both publicly and privately.
Christians have a unique perspective on suffering and persecution. We expect persecution because we follow a persecuted savior. Yet we also connect with our savior through suffering—by taking up our cross and following him, faithful to God even when it hurts. If we are shamed, hurt, or lose status because of that connection, we rejoice that we are “counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”
One thing to think about: How do I respond to the suffering and persecution I experience?
One thing to pray for: A deeper identification with Jesus—even if it involves pain
This message was sent to: from
Fairview Park church of Christ, 11820 Fairview Road, Little Rock, AR 72212
If you no longer wish to receive this newsletter click to unsubscribe. Modify your Subscription