The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Acts 5:33-42 speaks to us on a number of levels at once. In its most basic essence, it shows us that there was some debate within the Sanhedrin about how the apostles should be treated. Yet as we dig a little deeper we can find some additional important principles.
First, we notice that the leaders of the Jewish court sent the apostles, the people on trial, outside so as to discuss the situation for a bit. In the midst of a difficult discussion it is often valid to ask for opportunity to speak just among yourselves, whichever side of a debate you may be on. There are some matters which are appropriate to discuss in front of others, and some which require privacy.
Second, we notice that the Sanhedrin, which is charged with protecting orthodox teaching, is divided in their attitude of how to question the apostles. Should they be condemned out of hand? Should they be chastized and then kept under surveillance? Could they possibly be right? Gamaliel speaks wisdom which we need to hear. Differing opinions are not necessarily a threat. It could be that the opinion should be heard, even if it will not be embraced. I fear we have lost this capacity in our world today. We are not willing to hear opposing views. Rejection of a point of view will condemn us somehow. So we avoid discussion. This is not a productive way toexplore issues.
Finally, Gamaliel points out that God will sovereignly bring about his will, regardless of what the Sanhedrin thinks. If a move is of God it will happen. If it is not of God, it will die out. Do we trust God’s power to care for our world? Though there are many times when, seeing wrong, we need to confront it, there are other times when we may do better to allow the people who are going astray to go their way. We are clear about the truth. If some reject it, even to their own harm, they have been warned and will find themselves suffering the consequences. We can’t always fix everything. We need to choose our battles carefully.
There’s always so much going on in Scripture!
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