Daily Devotion for Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Acts 5:41, “…rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on account of the name.”
In my reading of Acts the second half of Chapter 5 strikes me as particularly profound as a wake up call for me as a disciple of Christ. Human nature innately seeks to obtain pleasure and avoid pain. Above all, it seems that human individuals will do anything within their power to avoid shame and embarrassment. That is one of the reasons that even disciples of Christ fail to live out the calling that God has for their lives.
In Chapter 4, Peter and John were arrested and then released. By Chapter 5, all the apostles are arrested and put in prison. Amazingly, an angel opens the doors of the jail to the apostles. Instead of going into hiding, the angel instructs the apostles to go to the Temple and preach the gospel.
The High Priests and the Sanhedrin go to the jail and don’t find the apostles, but are told they are in the temple preaching. So they collect the apostles and bring them in front of the entire assembly of the Sanhedrin. The authorities demand the apostles to stop preaching about Jesus. Peter then famously responds, “We must obey God rather than men…we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (5:29, 32) The Sanhedrin wants to kill them then and there, but Gamaliel provides advice to the Sanhedrin that spares the lives of Jesus’ disciples. Instead of stoning the disciples, each one was flogged and released.
Don’t just read over that. They were flogged, beaten, scourged – for the gospel of Jesus! Faced with at least a horrible trial of pain and suffering – and probable death – Peter, who had fled Jesus when he denied him three times just a short time before, is now willing to die for the gospel of Jesus. Why? Because he had seen the Risen Lord!
As they were released, the disciples rejoiced THAT THEY WERE COUNTED WORTHY TO BE DISHONORED ON BEHALF OF THE NAME! They rejoiced in the scourging and the shame, because it was done in the name of Jesus.
This verse should remind us all that the Christian faith is not a religion of honor and reputation. A sincere and genuine faith will not result worldly esteem, but rather reviling and shame. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved it is the power of God! (1 Cor. 1:18)
The disciples were taught time and time again by Jesus Himself to expect to be shamed on account of the gospel. They were taught by the Son of God to expect to be persecuted. They knew it was coming. And when it came, they were not surprised. They rejoiced! For, they knew that Jesus had said, “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt. 5:11-12)
When someone insults you, persecutes you, rejects you, shames you, cries out that your Christian truth is an assault on their sensibilities and beliefs, is offended by your words and actions of love and truth in Jesus name, REJOICE! Because you have been counted WORTHY to be shamed in the same way Jesus was shamed! You are a brother and sister with Jesus Christ himself in suffering. Always remember…if you share in Jesus’ suffering, you likewise will share in His RESURRECTION!