“As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”
First take notice that the disciples of God are found preaching, teaching, and proclaiming the Resurrection. The Great Commission outlines our duty, privilege, and calling to teach others to obey the Word and to make disciples with the divine purpose to add to the Kingdom. Faith comes by hearing the Word, therefore communication in evangelism, discipleship, prayer, and receiving God’s Word is essential. We cannot escape our obligation to worship, evangelize, and fellowship by communicating God’s Word. Conversely, we cannot be a hypocrite, for we must also ‘prove ourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude ourselves.’ Romans 14:7 says it this way, “For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself.” Our lives are reflections, witnesses, and teachers to those in our sphere of influence. We are a teacher by default. People are learning from us whether it is what we intend them to learn or not. 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Are we discipling others towards Christ or the something else? According to whose standard do we measure that success? At what moments in our lives can we be found teaching others about Resurrection?
Next, observe the result of their faithfulness to God. People were troubled, offended, and grieved. Religious leaders, civil authorities, and powerful leaders opposed them, placed their hands on them, and threw them in jail! How often do we have to resist such our nation’s leaders to proclaim the Resurrection? We are a holy people, adopting by God separated unto Him for special use and significance. That does not protect or excuse us from suffering and persecution… it guarantees it! After being flogged, the apostles rejoiced that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41). “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). I often use this analogy: an athlete that finishes a competition and is not exhausted, has no bruises, suffers no aches, has no stains on their jersey, nor sweats from exertion was probably not in the game. The analogy only goes so far, but the point is, are we engaged in the war for men’s souls? Are we in the fight or or we non-combatants? Can our family recognize our contributions to the game? When is the last time we have purposely chosen to be uncomfortable, unsafe, or unpopular for His sake?
“But many of those who had heard the message believed” (Acts 4:4). Their willingness to suffer for the gospel was a testimony to those whom they have witnessed. It is my concern that many people are not coming to Christ because our words do not match our action (and vice versa). Non-believers know our high calling better than we do. They know the implications of forsaking all to trust in Christ. They reject the half-hearted, relative, and selfish christianity they often witness today. Many are just waiting to see authenticity in our faith, hope, and love. Suffering for Christ is a serious aspect of our Christian walk. It is not to be glorified, neither is it to be avoided by compromising our King. Non-believers should see a difference in how we approach our decisions, conversations, and behaviors because we have the ultimate security and salvation in the Lord Jesus our God. Those are huge implications and should drastically affect our convictions, our courage, and our calling in Christ. The men of Acts responded this way, “We must obey Christ rather than men.”