These scriptures hold a few interesting teachings that bear thinking about. They firstly show the nature of man and the opposition that those who follow Jesus will receive. Then they go on to identify what it is that causes the people of the world to oppose the words of The Lord.
We see here the humanity of man at it’s worst. How one group stand against the other and the motivations that drive them to do evil when it is apparent and obvious to all that they are in the wrong. The passions of human nature are not of God and it is those that we must conquer, not through our own strength, wisdom or power, but through the power of the Holy Spirit if we are to stand in the presence of God.
And then we see what it is and why it is that these negative human passions sway men to do evil. In a word, it is jealousy. And they were jealous because the disciples had something that the priests did not have. They had the words of This Life.
How many sins, crimes and hurts have been caused in this world through the passion of jealousy? It is one of the worst of all human passions because it is the antithesis of love.
God is love and it is through love that relationships are forged, built and strengthened. But jealousy and its counterpart of envy, destroys relationships, tear apart brethren and friendships and leads to a path of destruction.
Look at the very first children born into this world: Cain and Abel. The Lord accepted Abel’s sacrifice but did not accept Cain’s and so he was angry and killed his brother. Both sought the blessing of The Lord but when one received it and the other did not, human passions arose and the sin of murder was the outcome. What was at the root of this sin? Jealousy. This is a typical and classic example of what jealousy is and does.
And here again in these scriptures in Acts we see the green eyed monster that is jealousy rearing its ugly head once more. The scripture here says,
17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy
18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.
Why were the apostles arrested and imprisoned? Because the religious leaders of the day were jealous of what they saw the apostles doing. They were jealous for they could see all of the people listening to the words of the apostles and going to them rather than to the religious leaders of Judaism.
But there is more, for they knew what they were jealous of. The apostles were teaching a new message that they had heard from God and was taught to them by Jesus Christ. And God was confirming the truth of their teaching by performing many signs, wonders and miracles in the sight of all the people. And the fundamental root cause of this jealousy was they were teaching the words of This Life.
I have learned and said many times that we need to consider the “little words” in the bible. Often they can be skipped over and missed, and yet they convey so much meaning when we learn to see and recognise them. This scripture provides a perfect example of the use of a “little word” that looks innocuous but says so much. The scripture here says,
19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,
20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”
Look at the last two words in this section. It says “this Life.” It does not just say “life” but it says THIS Life. The little word “this” provides an emphasis on the teaching that is easily overlooked, but it speaks volumes to us.
They were not preaching about any old life but specifically about the teachings of life that lead to eternal life. This life says that they were teaching about the truth of the new covenant that would lead the people to the very throne of God. It is this life that is to be found only in Jesus Christ that they were teaching for they were showing the people a better way.
The word “this” is used to provide emphasis on the truth of what they were teaching. And the word “this” is used in many other places to similarly show an emphasis on the teachings of truth that lead us to God in Jesus Christ. Consider for a moment these two scriptures.
“Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” (Acts 28:28)
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
Note that in both of these scriptures above the use of the word “this” points to a specific salvation and a specific gospel that will be preached. Not just any old teaching but a very specific one that will lead the listeners to the truth of Jesus Christ and the salvation, gospel and life that the word “this” points to.
So what? Well you may ask. Just stop and consider for a moment how many different forms of religion exist in the world all proclaiming to be the truth. How many sects, divisions and denominations exist within Christianity itself, all of whom teach different messages but all claim to be speaking the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
They cannot all be right and they are certainly NOT all teaching “this” gospel, “this” salvation and “this” life that the bible says will be and was being taught. So where will we find the truth today among the hundreds of churches and thousands of messages being taught? The answer is quite simple really. Jesus.
Come To Me
No, not ME… Jesus said those words “Come to me” and that is how and where we must go to find the truth. The best example of what Jesus had to say about this was in Matthew 11:27-30.
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Who does Jesus tell us to go to to find rest and to find the teachings of truth? He tells us to come to Him and to learn from Him for He has all knowledge and all that the Father has was given to Jesus for the purpose of teaching us.
There is no pastor, priest, teacher, minister, rabbi or whatever who can provide you with the fullness of the truth that Jesus will give because none of the people of this world, even the most devout and holy person HAS the fullness of the truth. And in the end we will all stand alone before the judgement seat of God. There will be no holy man standing as advocate for us when we come to that final judgement, so we better find out the truth for ourself.
Similarly, what YOU need to learn at any point in time will be quite different to what someone else may need to learn at that same point in time. Also, the way you understand something and the way someone else understands something can be very different.
That is why The Lord gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who seek and ask for it. The Holy Spirit works in us to teach, counsel and guide us in ways that we can understand as individuals.
And when it comes to “this” gospel, “this” salvation and “this” life it is only The Lord who can teach us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! There is no truth other than what exists and comes from God and it is His decision and His will that if we seek Him according to “this” way, that is, His way, He will show it to us.
It is an individual walk that we walk as we seek the truth of Jesus Christ and the new covenant. But we are not alone for He walks with us and the Holy Spirit guides us. If we will come to Him according to His way and according to His will, then He will show us the fullness of His truth and the freedoms that exist only when we are walking in His way. Your life depends on finding “This Life.”
(Image sourced from stock.xchng provided by nikareteku)
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