Acts 5: Celebrating Suffering

We want to run away from hard times.  We pray for them to stop.  We do all we can to avoid them.

I am not sure that is all bad.  I don’t think we need to go looking for trouble; it has a way of finding us just fine without our help.

But the apostles in today’s passage endure a sound beating and berating at the hands of the Sanhedrin and what do they do?  Celebrate!

They called the apostles back in.  They beat them and told them not to speak in the name of Jesus.  Then they let them go.  They, however, went out from the presence of the Assembly celebrating, because they had been reckoned worthy to suffer disgrace for the name. (5:40-41)

Is there anything to celebrate in suffering for Jesus?  Several things, actually.  We better understand our Savior, who suffered greatly in life.  We are reassured of our devotion when we are willing to suffer.  We can be confident that we are perceived of as a threat to the power brokers of this world if they are willing to take the time to push us down.  We will no doubt develop perseverance, patience and character as a result of our suffering.  We will become stronger through adversity.  But the biggest point of all is in the last clause of v.41: we know we love the name and reputation of Jesus more than our own welfare and interests if we endure persecution to the point of suffering,  In addition, we are reassured that God had enough confidence in our ability to faithful endure suffering that he allowed it to come our way.

It will take some time to retrain the heart to these realities, but this idea is a wonderful one!

Categories: Acts | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Acts 5: Celebrating Suffering

  1. Dean

    Hi Jason,

    Hope you’re well! Have been trying to read along with you – thank you for this opportunity.

    Really enjoyed your observations here. It reminds me a lot of how the Islamic tradition stresses patience and how God actively tests us with both good things (wealth, etc) and hardships. “And We will surely try you with something of fear and hunger and the loss of wealth, life, and the fruits of labor – But good tidings to the patient! Those who, whenever trouble afflicts them, respond, ‘We are God’s and we will return to Him.’ Upon those are blessings from their Lord, and those are the successful.” And why does God test us? “So that God may try what’s in your chests and purify what’s in your hearts.”

    It always strikes me that we shouldn’t take hardship as an indicator of distance from God – on the contrary, hardships should reinforce for us that God is indeed with us, challenging us to be better.

    • Hello Dean! Good to have you here!

      Wonderful thoughts! This would certainly be one of those places where our different faiths have definite agreement. I like how you say that even blessings like wealth and success can be as much a form of testing as the hard times we don’t welcome. So true!

  2. I see another thing in this chapter, the government that are controlling the state is non-believer.

    V29-30 :Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead –whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.

    Another separation of God from – God and Jesus. So currently, god still separate based on you believe.

    But Peter believe Jesus had killed by hanging him on a tree. – Why Peter believe Jesus is being hang on a tree. 2 thing – (1) hang, (2) tree. I though Christian believe Jesus die on the cross? Majority of version written using word hang and tree.

    So from here, I can see; the are 2 different teaching, (1) Teaching by Jesus before he left the world. (2) teaching by twelve after Jesus left,

    • That is not smiley, it suppose to be double dot and Peter.

    • Sorry, Hifzan, it has taken me some time to respond.

      Concerning the “tree” comment: every Christian I know believes this is simply a more poetic way to say nailed to the cross. What would a cross be made from? From large portions of a tree. It was also common practice to lash the criminal to the cross before they were nailed to it. Then as that cross was erected, the person on the cross would literally be hanging from the nails until they suffocated. People who were crucified almost never died from bloodless. They would have had to push up on the nail in their feet in order to breathe, until they grew so weak they could doit no longer and they suffocated. So I am afraid I don’t see the discrepancy you do.

  3. Courtney

    I am challenged by this passage and your comments Jason. I have yet to celebrate any suffering. Not quite sure how to get there. Maybe the first step is thanking God no matter what happens. Uttering a simple “thank you God” may force me to begin thinking about the good that could come from wherever circumstances may lead.

  4. There is a lot that strikes me in this passage today.

    1. The disciples deal with Ananias and Sapphira with such freedom. It is your money, you have the right to do with it what you want. Nobody here is forcing you. So why did you lie? I think it would be easy to insist on the communitarianism of chapters 2 and 4.

    2. “Fear of God . . . healthy respect for God . . . God was not to be trifled with.” I am afraid we don’t have a lot of that mentality around anymore.

    3. “Let them alone. If this program or this work is merely human, it will fall apart, but if it is of God, there is nothing you can do about it.” This is an easy thing to say when it is a sect of the same religion, as it was in this case originally. But I can’t imagine saying this about Boko Haram or ISIS.

  5. “Before you [Ananias] sold it, wasn’t it yours to sell or to keep? And after you sold it, wasn’t the money entirely at your disposal?” (5:4)

    I guess, five years later, I am still hung up on Ananias and Sapphira’s motivation. They did not have to do what they did. They certainly didn’t have to sell the land. They didn’t have to give the land. And they certainly didn’t have to lie and said they were giving everything. So why did they do it? I suspect it had something to do with wanting to appear pious while not actually being. Wanting to remain greedy while seeming so generous.

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