Acts of the Apostles 5:34-42
One member of the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee called Gamaliel, who was a doctor of the Law and respected by the whole people, stood up and asked to have the apostles taken outside for a time. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin, ‘Men of Israel, be careful how you deal with these people. There was Theudas who became notorious not so long ago. He claimed to be someone important, and he even collected about four hundred followers; but when he was killed, all his followers scattered and that was the end of them. And then there was Judas the Galilean, at the time of the census, who attracted crowds of supporters; but he got killed too, and all his followers dispersed. What I suggest, therefore, is that you leave these men alone and let them go. If this enterprise, this movement of theirs, is of human origin it will break up of its own accord; but if it does in fact come from God you will not only be unable to destroy them, but you might find yourselves fighting against God.’
His advice was accepted; and they had the apostles called in, gave orders for them to be flogged, warned them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. And so they left the presence of the Sanhedrin glad to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name.
They preached every day both in the Temple and in private houses, and their proclamation of the Good News of Christ Jesus was never interrupted.
Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.
Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.
You might find yourself fighting against God
Gamaliel was a key figure who helped to prevent the elimination of the early church followers by members of the Sanhedrin. He was the sole voice of reason among a suspicious and fearful crowd, which could have been easily incited to put the apostles to death. Thankfully, his audience saw the sense in his words, and accepted his advice, thus allowing the apostles to continue to build the foundations of the church.
The history of the early church is replete with examples of men and women who, through their various actions, aided in the growth of the church during the early years of struggle. Through a combination of reason, courage and a commitment to the truth, they were able to lead others to Christ.
As instruments of God, we are not usually called to perform miraculous acts. We might, however, find ourselves in situations where we are the ones representing God’s voice amidst opposing forces. We live in an age fraught with moral dilemmas and negative cultural influences that threatens to secularise all of society. In such a morally fragile climate, we must stand firm by the church’s teachings, know it well, and live it out in our lives.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray that the Holy Spirit may guide us in standing firm by our beliefs.
Thanksgiving: We thank the Lord for the many examples of wisdom and faith in scripture.
Sat, 07 May – Acts of the Apostles 6: 1-7; John 6:16-21
Sun, 08 May – Acts of the Apostles 2:14.22-33; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35; Third Sunday of Easter