Monday, February 22, 2016

DJD222 - God Rather Than Men

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Acts 5:29

Starting Question:

Have you ever been asked to stop doing something that was helping someone else?

God Rather Than Men

Killing a revolutionary is the best way to end his movement. Without the leader and the vision, planning and rhetoric coming out of his mouth - the people will disperse. This was the wisdom offered by Paul’s mentor when Peter’s troop were causing havoc in the city. “Wait,” Gamaliel said, “and if Jesus movement is man made, it will fall apart.” Then he paused. “But, if this thing is of God, you will never stop it.”

That was almost two-thousand years ago. And that little following has multiplied to one of the worlds greatest and most prevalent religions. Christianity is founded on the teachings and practices of those two men - Peter and Paul - Gamaliel’s student.

Peter and his band of Jesus followers had been teaching in the streets of Jerusalem. Because Jesus had promised, when Peter saw a sick person, he tried to heal him. It worked. Peter’s faith grew and so did the faith of the people. They were believing in the power of Jesus as revealed through Peter. 

The miracles the happened through Peter are the most impressive miracles in the New Testament. Jesus had said, you will do even greater things than I have done when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. It was true. People were lining up their sick and wounded in the morning sun so that when Peter walked to temple his shadow would pass over them. And believing, they were healed.

This caused great consternation among the religious leaders. They asked the disciples to stop preaching about Jesus. They demanded it. Then they locked them in prison. The next morning, while waiting for the prisoners to be brought to them, the soldiers reported empty handed: We went to the jail. The doors were locked. The cells were air-tight. But, the men were gone! 

Shaking in frustration, the religious leaders struggled for what to do. Then another report came to them. “You know those Jesus freaks? They are back preaching in the same place as yesterday!”

With careful words they convinced the disciples to come in for a chat. They were scared of the people because they knew there was great belief in these men and their Messiah. 

“You’ve got to stop!” They demanded. “You are blaming us for Jesus’ death. And you are causing the people to hate us. This is our city. Stop preaching about Jesus!”

“We must obey God,” Peter said, “rather than men!” 

“Why must you blame us!?!” The leaders shouted. 

“Because,” Peter said, matter-of-factly, “You killed God’s Son. And now He is sitting at God’s right hand - more powerful than ever!”

As the leaders were about to tear the disciples to shreds, a man respected by all the religious leaders stood and said, “Send them out.” Once the room was clear, Gamaliel continued, “Men of Israel, be careful about what you do to these men. Other men have started revolts. When you killed those men, the people went home. You know you killed Jesus. Now wait and see.”

Reflection Question:
Which is more impressive to you: Peter's boldness in Jesus or Paul's teaching about Jesus? Why?

Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Further Reading:
To Be Like Jesus, Page 61

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