But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while. Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing. After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered. “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts of the Apostles 5:34-42 NLT)
Gamaliel was obviously a respected member of the Sanhedrin. He was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were the largest religious sect of the time. They believed in resurrection (life after death), they just hadn't accepted that Jesus was the Messiah. His advice was wise. I do not know if he was, perhaps, moved by the Holy Spirit in the apostles comments. Regardless, his statement appears to have saved the apostles from facing worse punishment, even death. God used Gamaliel to help His anointed men. God always provides for His own. Simply, God always wins. Let us consider the fact that the message of Jesus has prevailed in history and it is still going strong today. As Gamaliel said, if this movement were of man, it would have extinguished. News flash to the devil: JESUS IS LORD! No matter what council may sit to determine the course of the church, God always has the last word. The apostles did endure suffering for standing for Jesus. They were flogged (beaten severely with a whip or rod). God never said the road would be easy, but He promised to always be with us (Matthew 28:20). If we suffer for serving Jesus, so be it. Just as the apostles said, it is an honor to suffer for the King. After all, didn't He suffer for us? Regardless of the continued persecution, the apostles were relentless with the message of Jesus Christ. In a time when being a devout disciple of Jesus is scorned and mocked, let us never relent to preach and teach the truth. We are among the ranks of the saints. Stand strong church! Stand strong!!
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Rev. Curtis Norris