Reading for Thursday, April 12: Acts 5
Acts 5 gives us an unvarnished scene of deception in the life of the early church. Ananias and Sapphira are condemned for their lie, but what stands out is the authority Peter demonstrates: questioning these two, holding them accountable, almost remorseless as he decrees their punishment. This authoritative position is reinforced with the next story: even his shadow is possesses the healing presence of the Spirit (v15).
We’re treated to another showdown with the religious ruling class. Just as the tomb could not hold Jesus, prison bars are impotent to hold His followers (v20). I love what the angel tells them in this verse: “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” And preaching this Jesus-Life is bold work, as we discussed yesterday. But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men,” (v29). Here we see the ruling powers feeling threatened, realizing their lack of power over these disciples and — moreover — their Master. They’re left with nothing but sideshow tricks: they have the disciples beaten and they warn them not to speak any more about Jesus. But we’re all in on the action and we know that’s not going to happen. And there’s nothing these priests and rulers can do to put a stop to it.
Here are a few takeaways from this chapter:
- An affront to the church body is considered an affront to God. When Ananias and Sapphira lie to the church, Peter equates this to lying to the Lord (v4). The connection between the church and the body of Christ is strong in Luke / Acts.
- Peter’s shadow — His very presence among the people is ministry. May the same be said of us.
- Opposition. There will always be forces opposed to Kingdom work. It’s been said that if we aren’t facing persecution, perhaps we’re too closely aligned with the world.