Monday, August 14, 2006

Acts 5:12-26

We talk about the good news of Jesus Christ. We are right to do so. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus constitute good news for a world desperately in need of good news.

We see evidence of this in today’s reading from Acts. Many people found the narrative of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection appealing and compelling, so they devoted their lives to Jesus after hearing the apostles tell about him. Additionally, in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit, the apostles performed signs and wonders. Those acts included healing many who were physically, emotionally, or spiritually ill. All of this sounds like good news to me – good news of rescue from sin and death!

Yet not all receive the narrative and person of Jesus as good news. Some people remain skeptical. Some feel threatened. Some even oppose Jesus.

We see this reaction in today’s passage as well. The religious and political leaders in Israel had the apostles arrested and jailed. Those leaders and others did not perceive Jesus as good news. They feared and even hated him. This is why Jesus was crucified, and why many of the followers of Jesus suffered persecution and even martyrdom in Israel and beyond.

If we are to follow Jesus truly and faithfully, it is important for us to understand this kind of reaction and take it to heart. For example, we must ask in what ways we still resist the good news? While we may love Jesus, sadly there likely remain aspects of our lives where we do not receive Jesus as good news. This is because his good news means those aspects must change to accord with God’s good will and purposes for us. With God’s grace, we must repent and receive God’s good news especially in those areas where we still cling to sin and death.

Also, we must expect opposition to the good news and to us as agents of the good news from some powers and people in the world. We must resist the temptation to make the message acceptable and attractive in ways that subvert or even betray the true substance of the good news. However truly wonderful the good news really is, some will fear, reject, and even oppose it! Yet the good news truly is good news because God knows best what is best for us, even when people do not perceive and receive it as such. We must simply and deeply trust God to work in people’s lives in ways we cannot imagine. And we must likewise trust God to care for us, despite opposition and even suffering, when we faithfully live and proclaim the good news of Jesus.

Gregory Strong

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