Read Part 1
Based on Acts 5:27-32
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
The prosecution always presents their case first at a trial in our court system. Why? Because we are a Judeo-Christian culture that follows the rules established in the law of Moses. And that is exactly the way this trial begins as well, with the accusation. The text says that the apostles were “questioned” by the high priest, but it is less a questioning and more of an accusing. It was delivered in the tone of a question with a sharp inflection at the end, letting them know that the questioner already knows the answer. Hidden in verse 28 is, I think, the real concern that the Sadducees have about the apostles’ recently acquired popularity.
“We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” (Acts 5:28)
The problem is not so much that they had forbidden them to teach in the name of Jesus. What would be the harm if they only had a handful of followers and weak or nonexistent public recognition? But that is not the apostles’ current social position. They have a large following in the tens of thousands, they’ve worked many wonders and signs in Jesus’ name, and all “the people held them in high esteem.” (Acts 5:13). The problem the Sadducees have is a particular part of the Gospel message. The part they take issue with is actually the core of the Gospel message. At the center of the Christian Gospel is the crucifixion of Christ. Let’s listen to how Peter repeatedly portrays the crucifixion of Christ in his previous public sermons.
Acts 2:22-22 (Pentecost)
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
Acts 3:14-17 (In the Temple after healing the Lame Man)
14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.
Acts 4:10-12 (First arrest of Peter & John after the Lame man)
10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
May God be with you!