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(Acts 5:14–42) The Sanhedrin's Snafu

(Acts 5:14–42) The Sanhedrin's Snafu

by Stephen Davey
Series: Sermons in Acts
Ref: Acts 5:14–42

The Sanhedrin just doesn't get it. They witnessed Christ perform miracle after miracle and still concluded that His power came from the Devil. As the Apostles preached and performed miracles, the Jewish leaders tried to put an end to it.

Explore the account of the Sanhedrin's reaction to the growing influence of the Apostles in Acts 5:14-42. Witness the jealousy and opposition faced by the early believers and discover their unwavering commitment to obey God rather than men. Discover the power of their testimony and the resilience of the early church in the face of adversity.


The Sanhedrin's Snafu

(Acts 5:14-42)

I’ve read that one of the words that came out of World War II was the word “snafu”.  Spelled -  S N A F U - it’s really an acronym for “situation normal, all fouled up.”  You’ve probably used that word - “That was quite a “snafu”.  You’re referring to a royal mess.  The Chicago Tribune wrote that the Pentagon later scrapped that word for a new pet word, “fubb”.  It’s another acronym which simply means “fouled up beyond belief.”  Maybe you can use it sometime this week.

If the leaders of the nation Israel could have defined their state of affairs during the 5th chapter of Acts - they would have been mumbling “snafu” and “fubb” over and over again.

From their perspective, over the course of the next 24 hours, things would go from bad to worse - the Apostles just wouldn’t go away - and now there were more and more people, including priests, defecting from Judaism and accepting Jesus Christ as their risen Lord.

14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number; 15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets, and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. 16 And also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits; and they were all being healed.

17.   But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with (concern for the truth; they were filled with righteous indignation; they were filled with care for the Israelites?  NO!  THEY WERE FILLED WITH  jealousy; 18 and they laid hands on the apostles, and put them in a public jail.

Don’t overlook the motive for everything they did - the gaurdians of the law were  more concerned with gaurding their own jobs that they ignored the fulfillment of the law through Christ.

It won’t be the last time, or the first time, jealousy and envy rear their ugly heads.

Matthew 27 informed us that as the Jewish leaders were crying for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus, the Bible says, “Pilate knew that becuase of envy they had delivered him up.”

In Acts chapter 7 Stephen stands before the Sanhedrin and reveals the jealousy of the patriarchs against Joseph and for that jealousy they sold him into slavery - application Sanhedrin - you delivered the redeemer up becuase of your jealousy.

Acts 13:44  “And the next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of God.  45.  But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul.

Acts 17:4  And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a great multitude of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.  5.  But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar.

Isn’t that incredible - the human emotion that delivered Jesus up stoned Stephen and harrased and Paul and Silas was nothing other than crass jealousy - they’re stealing power and attention away from us - let’s do away with them!

Aren’t you glad the church doesn’t struggle with that?

The funny thing, to me is that the Sadducees did not believe in anything supernatural.  They always tried to explain it away.  Just kind of like they do today.  They were the religious liberals of Christ’s day.  They were men who were supposedly spiritual.  And yet, they would explain anything supernatural away.  And one of their pet peeves was angels.  They didn’t like to talk about angels.  In fact, they didn’t believe in angels.  And so God, in heaven, you know, just kind of looked down and He thought, “Okay, I’m going to get these apostles out of jail.  Now, how shall I do it.  Should I cause an earthquake to open the doors and break open the chains?”  He did that, you know, with Paul and Silas.  No, I’ll use an angel . .

19 But an angel of the Lord during the night opened the gates of the prison, “Taking them out he said, (RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!. . .no!) Go your way, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.”  21 And upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak, and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates had come, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought22 But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned, and reported back, 23 saying, “We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. 25 But someone came and reported to them, “Behold, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, lest they should be stoned).  27 And when they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 31 “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.

33. But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and were intending to slay them. 34 But a certain Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time.

Mishna - “When Gamaliel the Elder died, the glory of the  Law ceased and purity died.”

35. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 “For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody; and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. And he was slain; and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 “After this man Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away some people after him, he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 “And so in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action should be of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”

Wait and see!  It seemed good advice - but it was pragmatic - and the Sanhedrin was supposed to judge truth from error - not wait and see what works or doesn’t - not hide their heads in the sand  - if it was not the truth - they were to protect Jerusalem from it - if it was the truth, they were to submit to it and change.

But remember, the underlying attitude of the Sanhedrin was not to discover the truth, but to jealously protect their jobs - so their repetitive question was, “How can we supress the truth?!”

40 And they took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

At the Rockefeller Center in New York City are four large murals.  The first painting is of a primitive man laboring with his hands, attempting to survive his alien environment.  The next is the portrayal of a man having become the creator of  tools, and the some of the comforts of civilization are shown around him.  The third mural shows man to be both master and servant of the machine.  The vast forces of the material world are now under his direction and his control.  The last painting is a surprise becuase it seems so out of context with the first three.  It depicts Jesus Christ speaking to masses of men and women and cildren.  Underneath the fourth mural, the inscription reads:

“Man’s ultimate destiny depends not on whether he can learn new lessons or make new discoveries, but on his acceptance of the lesson that was taught him over 2,000 years ago.”

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Cornell Carpenter says:
Thank you Pastor for this sermon from our LORD Jesus Christ. You have as many state and as I have noted time and again that the WORD has so much that we are blessed to continue to discover new truths when we study it. I have used your messages broadcasted on WYFI (BBN) to do just that immerse myself into HIS teachings. Thank you, Cornell Carpenter Yorktown, VA

PS:: your personal story at the end of the broadcast referenced a trip with your family to Monte Carlo and you described a headquarters building that is used to transmit the Gospel. But, you also in that story gave some background on ruins of another building there, as well. What was the crumbled building? What did it represent? (My wife interrupted that part of your message and I am curious. Thank you and I need to support your ministry as I am able.

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