Bravery under fire. Acts 5:27-29:
27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,’ he said. ‘Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.’ 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings! NIV UK.
The boldness of the apostles is brought to light here. They were given clear and ‘’strict orders’’ not to teach about Jesus (28). But conscious of higher orders, they moved in the opposite direction – and how! They ‘’filled’’ Jerusalem with their teaching. Rather than capitulating and becoming like mice, they went for it big time. They even seem to have taken things up a gear or two. What choice did they have though,when the Holy Spirit was so obviously in control; when he was not just ‘resident’, but also ‘president’? Somebody observed that if the Holy Spirit had been removed from the first Christian church, 95% of what they were doing would have stopped, immediately. But if the Holy Spirit were to be removed from today’s church, 95% of what we are doing would continue.I’m not too sure about those percentage figures, but I get the point, and broadly agree with it.
Clearly, the leaders also realised that they were being held accountable for the crucifixion of Jesus. This is a point we have heard in earlier sermons, and it shows that the apostles were made brave by the Spirit, because it took great courage to say these things to men who would not hesitate to squash them like insects if they chose. The apostles give this unpopular message again in today’s passage (30) even as an ominous, threatening cloud hovers over their heads. What motivated them? It was their commitment to seek first God’s Kingdom (29). Their primary loyalty lay unquestionably with the Lord, and the Holy Spirit poured into their lives as much courage as they needed to live that out in a hostile world.
If you ever have to choose between God and men, remember that the same Holy Spirit who filled these early preachers, also resides in you, and he can change you ‘’into a different person’’ (1 Samuel 10:6).
PRAYER: Lord God, I am not naturally brave, but I never want to be disloyal to you. I don’t want to let you down under pressure from this secular society. Please will you so fill me with your Holy Spirit that I am willing, where necessary, to stand in the firing line.