5:17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. 19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”
21 And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
22 But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported, 23 saying, “Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!” 24 Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be. 25 So one came and told them, saying, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!”
I love this story!
Now we need to do some review of the religio/political situation in Judah before we continue. There were two main sects vying for power and at the moment the Sadducees have it. Unlike Canada or the United States religion and government are not separate. Being the High Priest is essentially like being the Prime Minister or the President. When you read about kings and governors in the New Testament they are appointed Roman officials ruling Judah on behalf of the Empire. However when it came to having direct influence and power over the people, that came down from the High Priest. That's why he is the one having the disciples arrested and calling council meetings etc... His role was as much or more political as it was religious.
The other point we need to understand is that Bible is pointing out to us that Sadducees currently hold power. The other sect were the Pharisees. In our culture we would refer to these as the Liberals and the Conservatives. In the USA it would be the Democrats and Republicans. However again you need to remember that they held both political and religious power unlike our two countries. You also need to know that the gulf between the Sadducees and Pharisees was even wider than the gulf between the left and right in our day.
Why is it important to understand this?
Because the Sadducees are ruling and what they teach and believe as the Liberal sect is vastly different from what Jesus taught. And not just different in a theoretical sense either. The Sadducees denied there was life after death. They denied miracles. In fact their religious views were actually incompatible with their own sacred writings much like people today profess to be Christians yet hold beliefs that are incompatible with the Bible.
As you can quickly deduce, Jesus was a very inconvenient problem for them. How could they retain any credibility as leaders teaching there was no resurrection when Lazarus was walking around very much alive and Jesus also rose from the dead? You can see why they were desperate to squash all this "Jesus talk". The disciples were a serious pain in their necks.
So they arrested them... again.
You will remember that after they arrested Peter and John and the lame guy they only insisted they not talk about Jesus.
Think about that. Really think about it. All they really needed in order to be successful and maintain control was have the followers of Jesus who knew the Truth say nothing...
I hear a lot of people lamenting our leaders, both political and religious. Perhaps the real problem isn't them at all. Maybe the real problem is that those who know Him just aren't saying anything... Have you noticed we increasingly live in a culture where the politically correct thing is to say nothing?
We'll continue this story tomorrow.