June 22 Weekly Meditation
When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. (Acts 5:33-34)
Peter and the other apostles have been out in the streets of Jerusalem, sharing the story of Jesus Christ. But the powers-that-be, the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem, were upset. They had ordered Peter and the others NOT to preach and teach in Jesus' name. Now they have dragged the poor apostles in front of the council and accused them of ignoring their orders.
Peter responds by saying, "We must obey God rather than any human authority." Then he goes on to remind the council how they were the ones who had Jesus killed, but God raised him up again. Peter and the apostles are challenging the authority of the council and the members of the council are not happy about it. In fact, they are "enraged and wanted to kill them."
This next part is my favorite part.
Gamaliel, a respected member of the council and personal hero of mine, spoke out on behalf of the apostles and cautioned the council not to be too hasty. This is what he said.
"So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them — in that case you may even be found fighting against God!”
Isn't it nice when cooler heads prevail; when wisdom wins out over raw emotion and mob mentality. Isn't it nice to choose peace over violence.
I hope we remember Gamaliel next time we have a knee-jerk reaction and want to hang someone up by their ears. I hope that like Gamaliel we consider the whole situation, including God's role in it. I hope we can keep our cool and not just go along with the mob and speak a word of wisdom and calm in the midst of ignorance and chaos.
These things are not easy, but once again the Bible shows us, they are possible. Let it be so.