STICK TO THE POINT
"Bringing them back. they stood them before the High Council. The Chief Priest said, 'Didn't we give you strict orders not to teach in Jesus' name? And here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are trying you best to blame us for the death of this man,'
"Peter and the apostles answered,' It's necessary to obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, the One you killed by hanging Him on a cross. God set Him on high at His side, Prince and Saviour, to give Israel the gift of a changed life and sins forgiven And we are witnesses to these things. The Holy Spirit, whom God gives to those who obey Him, corroborates every detail.'" Acts 5:27-32 (The Message).
Aha! So that's the reason for all this antagonism! The High Priest and his cronies have guilty consciences but they won't admit it.
How blatant their refusal to acknowledge responsibility for killing Jesus! Who had Him arrested and condemned to death? Who led the frenzied demand for Him to be crucified and Barabbas released? Who mercilessly taunted Him while He hung on the cross? Little did they think that their actions would turn around and bite them!
The tragedy for them was that their guilt was shouting so loudly inside them that they were not hearing Peter's message. Had they only listened, they would have heard God's offer of unconditional forgiveness for them as well. Peter was not trying to nail blame on them. They already knew they were guilty. He was trying to show them the extent of God's mercy towards them as well.
This was not an exercise in "naming and shaming" anyone. That's not how God works to alert people to His offer of forgiveness. No, He does not wink at sin. He dealt with it by nailing it all on Jesus at the cross. He allows the conscience to do its work without rubbing people's faces in their guilt. It is the Holy Spirit's work to convince us of sin so that He can point us to the Saviour.
Until we acknowledge our guilt and take responsibility for our rebellion against God, we will be on the run like the religious hierarchy who were trying to shrug off their responsibility by compounding it! Peter and his fellow apostles stuck to the point. Why didn't they? They were a heartbeat away from forgiveness, even for killing Jesus, and a new life of joy and freedom, but they refused to stick to the point.
Once again Satan was locked in combat for the lives of these men, but so obsessed were they about being in control that they missed their golden moment for handing over the reins to the true Master of their lives. They did not realise that the command centre was not in their hands but in the hands of their enemy, the devil. He was not interested in their wellbeing -- only in their demise at their own hands because of their stubborn resistance to the One who could rescue them from themselves.
How tragic that people should be so suspicious of God, in spite of what He did for us at the cross, that they would rather run from Him than run to Him. Even some of those who claim to be followers of Jesus run from Him when guilt is exposed.
The true message of the cross is often obscured by the humanistic trend that makes the gospel a man-centred message. Peter stuck to the point. Jesus was crucified, yes, but God raised him from the grave and exalted Him to the highest place. He is both Lord and Christ and to Him every knee shall bow. Those who bow now will be absolved from guilt and the penalty of their sin, and will enjoy the benefits of being united to their Saviour both now and in the life to come.
Those who refuse to acknowledge guilt will carry in into the life to come and the unthinkable penalty of separation from God, the place where the master they served in this life will serve out his sentence for eternity.
The choice is mine and yours...
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