Provoked mightily by all this, the Chief Priest and those on his side, mainly the sect of Sadducees, went into action, arrested the apostles and put them in the town jail. But during the night an angel of God opened the jailhouse door and led them out. He said, “Go to the Temple and take your stand. Tell the people everything there is to say about this Life.” Promptly obedient, they entered the Temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching. Meanwhile, the Chief Priest and his cronies convened the High Council, Israel’s senate, and sent to the jail to have the prisoners brought in. When the police got there, they couldn’t find them anywhere in the jail. They went back and reported, “We found the jail locked tight as a drum and the guards posted at the doors, but when we went inside we didn’t find a soul.”
This passage again shows us the way that Paul is willing to be sent to the highest authority in the Roman Empire in order to defend his faith, something that perhaps we could take note of in today’s society. It is so very easy for those of us in Europe and other ‘Western’ cultures to exercise our rights to religious freedom and to attend church as and when we wish or are able. It is our brothers and sisters in Christ who are not able to worship freely in places across the world, and could be punished purely for their faith, that we must remember when we read this passage.
Do you feel the pain of those persecuted for their faith or have you always been able to exercise your faith publically? Jesus calls us to a life of service, sacrifice and grace. It is when we truly accept who we are as followers of Jesus, that we are able to serve him. However we must realise that serving our Lord is something that we cannot do without asking the question “What sacrifices am I willing to make for my faith?”. Being willing to make sacrifices in modern times and in the West is not having to risk your life to worship, but perhaps try and remember the last time you went to church instead of attending a football match on a Sunday or the last time you attended a mid-week service instead of being tied up with other social engagements. Christ calls us to make these sacrifices, small they may seem, but in doing so we are able to glorify God through them.
Loving God, Through your love you sent your Son to us, so that we may live. Jesus gave the greatest sacrifice, his life, so that we could be made free. Help us be willing to make the same commitment to you, in our busy lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.