“And now, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” So they were persuaded by him. After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name. Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:38-42
Many signs and wonders were being performed by the apostles in Solomon’s Colonnade and believers were added to the Lord in increasing number. The Sadducees were filled with jealousy and therefore arrested the apostles and put them in jail. During the night, an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail, brought the apostles out, and instructed them to go and stand in the temple complex and tell the people all about this life. The apostles acted in obedience and went and taught the people. When asked by the Sanhedrin and high priest why they were in disobedience by teaching in the Name, the apostles responded by saying, “We must obey God rather than men.” This enraged the Sanhedrin. Gamaliel, teacher of the apostle Paul and a respected teacher of the law, stood up and reminded the Sanhedrin of two separate occasions in which two leaders attracted a following for their cause but the group ultimately came to nothing when the leaders died and the followers dispersed. (summarized from Acts 5:12-37) This is where our focus text picks up.
“If this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown.” Men have the power and appetite to overthrow other men in their quest for personal ambition. We see this at work in the crucification of Jesus. The pride of men was so peaked it thought if we just kill his flesh, his story ends and ours continues. What they failed to perceive was that the power of Jesus did not reside solely in His flesh but was fueled by His Father and carried out by His Spirit.
“But if it is of God you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” DIVAs, if God has set a plan in action, NO PART of creation can overthrow His purposes. Amen. Try as men might it is nothing but a vain fight. Are we making sure, to the best of our ability, that our plans are God’s plans so that they will be established and not topple?
For the sake of emphasis let’s take a look at the definition of overthrow. The meaning is to depose, as from a position of power; overcome, defeat, or vanquish; to put an end to by force; to throw, knock down, or demolish; overturn; topple; to destroy the sound condition of (the mind).
“After they called in the apostles and had them flogged (derō), they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them.” The Greek word translated ‘fogged’ her is derō and means to flay, to scourge, beat, smite. Let’s take a look at another verse.
“The men who were holding Jesus started mocking and beating (derō) Him.” Luke 22:63
The same Greek word derō is translated here as ‘beating’ and has the same meaning. It is no wonder the apostles “went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name! Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” Not only would they continue to teach and proclaim but they would do it under the banner of JESUS IS THE MESSIAH! The apostles were friends of Jesus, loved Him, believed in His cause, and identified with Him. Because Jesus suffered as a result of not backing down from the truth, the apostles felt it a great honor to follow in His footsteps and not back down from the truth as well. What about us? Are we such a friend to Jesus, love Him so, believe in His cause, and identify with Him, that we are willing to risk our comforts for the pure joy of being “counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name”? Are we willing to not back down from the truth but speak it whenever a door is opened for us? Let’s not be considered such light-weight followers that when we get attacked or our comforts are threatened or our emotions wounded we desire to step back because it is too uncomfortable and feel it is not worth the fight. Sometimes we try to preserve the flesh and the resulting emotion and it therefore will have the power to halt our progression towards the Lord’s purposes.
Jesus was dishonored in the flesh. The ‘work of men’ in flogging the apostles was fueled by the Sanhedrin’s fear of losing their powerful standing among men. The Sanhedrin, in fear, speculated if they kill and dishonor His flesh they could stop the progression of the Name but the Name spread even further by that act because the Spirit came and enabled the followers! He still does the same today. What the Sanhedrin did not expect is for the apostles to leave their presence rejoicing at the pure honor they received by being counted worthy to suffer alongside their beloved friend.
- Are you quick to “rejoice” when you are counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name or do you step back and re-think your position? Do you value promoting your honor and worth more than you value promoting the honor and worth of Jesus? Do you insist your dignity be validated even at the expense of being out of line with the truth of Scripture?
- Does anything stand out about your life in Christ that would change a non-believer’s perspective?
Be bold for the cause of Christ DIVAs! The apostles did it even when their lives were threatened. Our lives are not threaten to the point of death but the disguise we at times present to others very well could be if you would be willing to let it.
In His grace,