5:22 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!”
26 Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”
29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 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 Savior, 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.”
A friend of mine pointed out yesterday that the religious leaders didn't even question the fact that the disciples walked out of a locked and guarded prison. All it says is that they wondered what the outcome would be.
I want to point out what the Lord pointed out to me this morning. He asked me one simple question - "Who is afraid?"
Fear is a debilitating condition. At times it prevents us from doing what we need to do and at other times it causes us to panic and do things we shouldn't do. Logically in this scenario in Acts 5 the disciples should be afraid but they aren't. They are the ones being hunted by the authorities. They are the ones in trouble simply for following the very One Moses and the prophets said would come.
The religious leaders have no reason to be afraid. They hold all the power. They man the prison. They run the temple. They run the council. They make the rules. Why are they so afraid? Afraid of the name of Jesus, afraid of the people, and afraid of some fishermen and their misfit companions.
It's not logical but then again when we only examine the surface we often miss the truth.
These powerful men are not afraid of the people or the disciples. They fear the truth. They are standing in opposition to Heaven and they know it. They have murdered the Son of God and they know it. His blood is on their hands and it haunts their dreams and has robbed them of any peace. They are desperately trying to bury everything. If the disciples would just stop talking about Him for awhile maybe everything would go back to normal and they could sleep through the night again.
The truth is they are not really trying to silence the disciples, they are trying to silence their own conscience. It's the same reason Cain killed Abel way back in Genesis 4.
We can live in peace even when our world is in turmoil or we can live in fear even when we hold all the power.
What makes the difference? Being at peace with God. Peter offered them the same antidote to their fear that he had experienced himself: "Jesus is at the right hand of the Father to give repentance and forgiveness to Israel..."
Whatever haunts your sleep, robs your peace, and creates fear in you where there need not be any has a cure. Ask Jesus to forgive you and turn you in a new direction. It's what He died for and it will cause you to truly live.