In His Will: Devotional Commentary for July 25-31
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
17But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy.
18They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail.
The Sanhedrin were upset with the Disciples. The High Priest was angry and his associates were jealous. Why? They were overwhelmed by the truth.
The Apostles were getting more and more popular with the people because God continued to grant miracles, signs, and wonders through their prayers, words, and deeds. New believers were added daily to the church as the Holy Spirit moved in people's hearts. God blessed His church. The Gospel was openly proclaimed and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was preached in the Temple and throughout the city. The sick were healed and those possessed by evil spirits were cleansed. They were set free.
Earlier, the Sanhedrin arrested Peter and John for healing a crippled man in the Name of Jesus. They tried them in court for these alleged crimes. But they released them with a stern warning to cease and desist from mentioning the Name of Jesus or doing anything in His Name. Their warnings fizzled with no significant consequence. Peter, John, and the Disciples chose to obey God and pay little attention to the warnings issued by the Sanhedrin.
The effort of the authorities to suppress the testimony of Jesus' Resurrection failed miserably. The Disciples continued to serve the Lord courageously and fruitfully. Consequently, the High Priest and members of the Sanhedrin grew angrier and more jealous. They detained the Apostles and put them in jail until they convened court to try them.
19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said,
20"Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life."
21Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought.
The authorities probably felt they were dealing with a company of stubborn Galileans. They felt they had the wisdom and power to subdue them into obedience. They thought they could easily scare them into submission. They, members of the Council, did not realize that the Apostles were not alone. They failed to recognize the Power behind them, with them, and in them. They were the Apostles of Jesus Christ. They were the servants of the Most High.
An incredible miracle took place while members of the Sanhedrin were preparing to try the Disciples and somehow find a way to silence them from propagating the Gospel and the news of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. During the night, the angel of the Lord appeared at the jail house where the Disciples were detained. He opened the gates of the prison and set them free to leave their place of confinement. He set them free and commissioned them to continue preaching the Gospel and teaching the people about the new life in Christ. The angel sent them from prison to the Temple. Once again, the Disciples were free but the High Priest and his associates were in for a great surprise.
The morning after they arrested the Apostles, the Council convened court and issued orders to have the Disciples brought before them to face trial. This was a large body of Jewish authorities which included rulers, elders, prominent officials of the city, and the standard members of the Sanhedrin. In the meantime, the Disciples were hard at work at the Temple since the break of dawn, preaching the Gospel and teaching the people. The authorities were looking for them where they expected them to be. But the Apostles were busy witnessing.
22But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back,
23saying, "We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside."
24Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this.
25But someone came and reported to them, "The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!"
No prisoners. That was a shocking news to the Council. The Disciples were delivered to the Jailor the previous day. The gates were securely locked. The guards were stationed at their designated positions. Everything appeared to be in order. But when they opened the prison cells, there were no prisoners. Nothing was disturbed or out of order. But the jail cells were empty.
At the same time, the Disciples went to the Temple as the angel instructed them. Consequently, the Temple guards could not find them where they expected them to be, the prison house. The authorities were confounded. They did not know what to think. Members of the Sanhedrin finally knew the whereabouts of the Disciples but remained perplexed about the mystery behind the empty prison cells. What the Council did was ultimately empty. But what God did prospered in truth and in victory.
Imagine the guards’ surprise when they arrived at the prison and discovered that the Apostles were gone. It was even more confusing to find the prison securely locked and the watchers standing guard at their respective positions while the prisoners left unobserved. The Council delivered the prisoners to the Jailor expecting to see them whenever they wished to do so. They were in charge, or so they felt. But the truth was different from their expectations.
Members of the Sanhedrin were already upset because the orders they issued against Peter and john were unheeded. Their warnings and threats were of no consequence at all. The church continued to grow.
The Disciples did not escaped from prison. They were released by God and were set free by His angel. The Holy Spirit was adding new believers to the church. God Himself was granting the miracles, signs, and wonders. God was giving the Disciples His commands to preach. The Disciples had to disregard the orders of the Sanhedrin in order to obey God. They could not serve two masters, taught them Jesus.
These new events provoked a more vigorous attack by the Council against the Apostles, indeed, against Jesus Christ. The High Priest and his associates could not quietly observe a handful stubborn Galileans disregard their orders. They probably felt insulted.
Unbeknownst to them, what the Sanhedrin did to the Apostles was an actual resistance against God. God was in the Disciples fulfilling His Will. On account of that, the authorities could not silence the Apostles because they cannot curtail God. They could not keep the Disciples arrested because they cannot confine God. In other words, the Sanhedrin were compelled to accept the truth that they could never impose their will on God. The empty prison cells and the vibrant moments of the Apostles' teaching at the Temple were all the signatures of God's Will. What God plans, God accomplishes. What God says, God does. No one can thwart God's plan. No one can stop the Gospel; not powers in heaven above or on earth beneath. No not one. It will be preached throughout the world. We are its commissioned messengers, the bearers of good tidings, the ambassadors with beautiful feet, lovely feet.