Sermon Series- The Acts of the Apostles: The First Thirty Years
From Acts 4:23-31
Why does the Church need to praise God and remind themselves of who their God is in this way at this time? Because the people that crucified Jesus have now officially taken notice of them. I’m sure rumors had reached the ears of the Sanhedrin by now about the weird event at Pentecost where thousands of people were said to be able to understand strange tongues. I’m sure that 3000 souls beginning to follow a new sect of Judaism on that same day had not escaped their ears. I’m sure by now they also know that the new sect has something to do with Jesus of Nazareth. But I’m sure most of them thought it would die away quickly. After all, Jesus is believed to be dead. We must remember, however, that a subset of the Sanhedrin have heard a story directly from the mouths of the centurions that were guarding Jesus’ tomb on the morning of his resurrection. (Matthew 28:2-4; 11-13) And they will stop at nothing to delegitimize the followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
The disciples, now 5000 men strong, likely more than 20,000 if we include families and extended families, are beginning to feel the rising temperature of the Jewish leadership’s opposition to them. So they remind themselves further,
“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’
God in His sovereignty had told them about the hostility they now face long ago in one of the first Messianic passages of the Psalms written: “through the mouth of their father, David.” This passage is a quotation from Psalm 2:1-2. It speaks of the hatred the Messiah would experience during His earthly ministry. There would be rage from the Gentile rulers. Herod would try and kill Him in infancy. Pilate would put Him to death because if he let Jesus live, it is likely it would have cost him his life. Pilate could never let a letter from the Jews arrive on Caesar’s doorstep that said he let a man live that said He was King of the Jews. The Romans would never have a king in any region that wasn’t of their choosing. But it wasn’t just the Romans; it was the Sanhedrin itself that rejected Christ and delivered Him to the Romans. There was a collective rage. There was plotting and collusion among people who otherwise hated each other. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians were all in league together in the venture of crucifying our Lord. All these groups, under ordinary circumstances, barely talked, much less joined in conspiracies together. But even though it appeared to be their will, ultimately it wasn’t their will. They could do nothing unless the Father decreed it.
26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
I’ve got an old friend who seems to be on a newfound mission to refute Calvinism through social media. Yeah, good luck with that, is all I can say. Predestination is such a controversial word when you apply it to ordinary men. People get their feathers ruffled at the craziest things. They seem to think it is wrong for God to predestine run-of-the-mill people like you and me, yet, it is perfectly acceptable to rejoice in Jesus being predestined by the hand of God to be crucified for them. It boggles the mind to believe that Christians take issue with God allowing sinners to pass into Hell, which they deserve, but have zero problems with God predestining His own son to crucifixion. Yet, predestined He was. “(I)t was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief;” (Isaiah 53:10). It was the hand of God the Father that predestined God the Son to an incarnate crucifixion for mankind’s sins. God foreordained the Jews and Romans “to do whatever” his “hand and” his “plan had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4:28)
The Church needs to remind themselves that their God is “Sovereign Lord.” They need to remind themselves that their God is the Maker of “heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them.” They need to be reminded that the Gentiles and the Jews were always going to rage; they were always going to plot vain things. They need to be reminded of these things because now it is their turn to carry the baton. The threats are no longer directed at the person of Jesus but His Church. They are starting to figure out what Jesus meant when He said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.” (Matthew 10:24-25)
Look for What & How To Pray In The Face Of Fear Part 4 tomorrow!