The early church seems to spend a lot of their time in the temple (Acts 5:12), where their public preaching gains the attention of the leaders. Not only are the apostles ignoring the prior prohibition on teaching, but they are also arousing the jealousy of the religious leaders. “But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison”(Acts 5:17-18). The message of Jesus is particularly offensive to Sadducees because it involves the resurrection of the dead, which they deny (Acts 4:2, 23:8). But here Luke seizes on their motives: they arrest the apostles because they are “filled with jealousy” at the crowd they are gathering and the influence they are having. Those who persecute others often allow their evil motives to masquerade as righteous indignation.
God does not stand still. An angel comes to free them from their newfound imprisonment and they go right back into the temple to continue preaching (Acts 5:19-20). “And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach”(Acts 5:21). Yet these leaders persist in taking this movement and its message as a personal affront. We have not heard the last of them.
Jealousy is the sense that other people’s successes and failures say something about us. We want what others have and this often leads to resentment and the sense that they are undeserving. Money, respect, love, and pleasure can tantalize us as we see others experience what we want. These Sadducees represent where we can end up when we allow jealousy to consume us—desperate, angry, and willing to hurt others.
One thing to think about: Am I jealous of anyone?
One thing to pray for: A spirit of celebration for others who receive blessings from God
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Fairview Park church of Christ, 11820 Fairview Road, Little Rock, AR 72212
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