Impotence fueled the high priest's indignation, and he shook with anger and frustration. How dare they, a bunch of uneducated fishermen, how dare they attempt to overturn centuries of tradition, how dare they perform miracles, how dare they heal the sick and cast out demons, without his permission, without including him, without asking him of all people to come and lay hands on the sick, the lame and the infirm as well? He didn't have the power they possessed, but at least for show, at least to confirm to the crowds that he was still relevant.
They'd been warned, they'd been told not to preach Christ crucified, the most brilliant minds of the time had tried to convince them not to upturn the apple cart, but they just wouldn't listen.
The miracles they performed made the high priest look all the more irrelevant, a relic of a bygone era, and the people were responding unlike they ever had to one of his dry, ceremonious diatribes, and that's what frustrated him most. Three thousand, then five thousand, how could men who still smell like fish be so successful in winning over the hearts and minds of the common people?
The high priest was well aware of the proven motto, when all else fails resort to violence, and so filled with indignation they laid hands on the apostles and threw them in common prison.
With that nuisance having been taken care of, the high priest returned to his priestly duties, gathering the council, and the leaders of the children of Israel because everyone knows there is strength in numbers, and why should he be the only one to feel the guilt and shame of reacting with violence just because he felt inferior?
After everyone was brought up to speed on the troublemakers, the high priest sent for them, the apostles of Christ, only to discover they were no longer in the common prison. Nothing as trivial as prison walls, or prison bars, shackles or chains, can stand in the way of the truth, and since they were needed for duty, an angel had seen to their expedited release the night before.
After their release from prison, the angel gave the apostles instructions, and it was not to run from the wrath of the high priest, or hide from his minions, they were instructed to go stand in the temple and preach. Indifferent of their own safety, that's exactly what they did, they went, stood in the temple and with the booming voices of conviction preached Christ, and Him crucified. They realized it would only be a matter of time before they were discovered and apprehended again, but they also knew they had no choice but to obey, and trust that the God who had seen to their release once before, would be faithful in seeing to their release again.
When we learn to trust and obey the voice of God, everything else fades into obscurity. All that surrounds us becomes blurred, like a camera that is out of focus, and the only thing we see with clarity and in vivid detail, is Jesus standing before us, showing us the way. We are no longer concerned with the how, the who, the when, or even the why of any particular situation, we simply obey.
Sure enough, the captain and his officers went into the temple where the apostles were teaching, and due to the fact the soldiers feared the crowds, they were taken and bought before the high priest without violence. Oh, how they would have enjoyed tuning them up a little bit, perhaps the whip, perhaps the rod, even a closed fist would have sufficed, but the crowds would have reacted, and so the apostles were spared a beating.
Unconcerned with how they managed to escape from prison, I suspect he already knew the answer and really didn't want any confirmation of the facts, the high priest got right to it, down to the heart of the matter, and said, 'did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?' (The name of Jesus Christ)
Then Peter and the other apostles said, 'we ought to obey God rather than men.'
There is a simplicity in truth that can be grasped even by the slowest of minds. No, Peter wasn't highly educated, but he still knew enough to know that we ought to obey God rather than men. His answer left no wiggle room, no room for debate, it was simple and matter of fact. If only today's generation could think so clearly and succinctly.
Obviously the high priest wasn't getting his point across, and so in anger and frustration he began plotting to have the apostles killed. That however, is a story for another post.
As simplistic as it might sound, it's easy to obey, when it's easy to obey. There are moments in this life, when we realize that obeying God will bring about repercussions to our flesh, that we might have to endure at the hands of unbelievers for our unwavering stance. Even when the decision is not easy, even when we know that the consequences of our obedience will bring about persecution, we have no choice but to obey. Whatever the reason for deliberating obedience of God, whether it be that you walk might be easier if you compromised, or the world would love you more if you remained silent, always remember that God prizes obedience, He values it above sacrifice itself. When you choose obedience, trusting God becomes an after effect of your obedience. Because you obeyed, you trust that God will see you through, that He will make a way even when there seems to be no way.
If we can learn one thing from the forerunners of the faith, those who we consider the pillars and the foundation of church, it's that obedience is never in vain. God sees, God knows, God rewards His faithful.
1 Samuel 15:22, "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams."
If we are obedient servants, if we obey the voice of God, then when we are called to sacrifice we will do so with gladness.
However when men attempt to sacrifice as a substitute for obedience, trying to garner God's favor by offerings rather than obedience, it is as a stench in His nostrils.
Trust and obey, in spirit and in truth, knowing in whom you've placed your trust. We trust not in the things of this earth, or in the strength of this mortal flesh, but in the power of the risen Son of God, the one who overcame death itself.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.