The One Message
If you had one opportunity to speak to a dying man what would you say? Talk about the weather? Inquire how healthy the person’s bank balance is? Advise that it might be prudent to take out some life insurance? If we are really honest none of these things would seem so important at such a late stage in life. If that is true then it means that, if we have eyes to see, none of these things should be that important to any of us today either.
In Acts 5 we are given a wonderful insight into what God thinks is important. A little background is helpful here; the Apostles have just been preaching and healing many people in the Temple, when they get arrested and thrown in prison. Their arch enemies are a Jewish elitist group of bigwigs called the Sadducees. One of the amazing things about this group is that they don’t believe in any kind of resurrection- when you are dead you are dead; game over.
It is not at all clear why the Sadducees hold so passionately to their belief as, in the final analysis, it makes life utterly meaningless. Indeed, this doctrine makes ‘life’ little more than a living death as we exist imprisoned in this grief stricken world. Hence, what is infuriating these ‘So-sad-you see-guys’ is that the Apostles are proclaiming that Jesus has risen from the dead. If this is true and Jesus really did rise from the dead then this is a game changer, injecting a relentless hope into a relentlessly hopeless world! Clearly, this flies in the face of all that the Sadducees hold dear, so its jail time for the apostles. So game over for Christ’s men?
No, not by a long shot! During the night an angel appears and releases the apostles and then gives them a single command- ‘go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life’. In other words- ‘go and preach the Gospel!’
Now, just for a moment, think of all the things that the apostles could have preached about; healing, having a spirit guide, how to talk to an angel, the thrill of a supernatural jail break, etc, etc. It is exactly that kind of stuff which people want to hear about today. However, for Christ’s men (and clearly for God himself) such things were not worth getting excited about. After all, a small miracle can free men from a physical prison, but it takes a mega big miracle to free people from the spiritual prison of their own sin.
What was worth getting excited about, and preaching from the rooftops, was the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and how that resulted in the complete forgiveness of everyone who would trust in him. Which is exactly what they did-
‘The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
This is the one message which can give a man hope in his last breath and take him to Heaven freeing him for the prison house of his own guilt. Now if that is true, don’t you think that it is worth believing (and preaching) today?