Escape From Prison!
Acts 5:17-32; The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 77-86
At church we learn that Jesus is most important.
“Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!’” (Acts 5:29).
Summer had been such a wonderful time for Pieter and Marta. With their parents they had attended some meetings, and their whole family had become Seventh-day Adventists. But then school started. And Pieter and Marta had a big, big problem. In their country the government said that all children had to be in school on Saturday. But they had learned that Saturday is the Sabbath—a time to worship God with others at church. What could they do? Whom should they obey? God or the government? A long time ago Jesus’ apostles had to decide too. Should they obey God or the government? What do you think they did?
It was too much! The leaders of the Jews could not believe what was happening. “Didn’t we order Peter and the other apostles to quit teaching about Jesus?” they asked each other. “But they are still teaching! And now they are doing miracles! Crowds of sick people stream into the city every day. And everyone is being healed!”
The Jewish leaders were angry! The high priest and the Sadducees believed they had to stop the apostles. So they arrested them and sent them to prison. They thought that would give the apostles some time to think. Maybe then they would stop all this talk about Jesus. They had to stop telling people that Jesus rose from the dead! The Sadducees did not believe that anyone could come back to life. They did not believe in angels, either.God must have smiled about that. That night He sent an angel to let the apostles out of prison. “Go back to the Temple and tell the people all about this new life in Jesus,” the angel said. Of course the apostles happily obeyed. And very early in the morning they went to the Temple and started teaching again.
But others were busy that morning too. The high priest and the Sadducees called all the other important Jewish leaders together. They sent orders to the prison to have the apostles brought to them. In a short time the men who had been sent to the prison came back. Their eyes were wide with fear. “We found the jail securely locked,” they reported. “And guards were standing at the doors. But we found no prisoners inside!”
The leaders shook their heads. What now? Then word came in from the street. “Look! The men you put in prison are back in the Temple courts. And they are teaching the people again!”
Grinding their teeth, the leaders sent more men to the Temple. When the apostles finally stood before the leaders, the high priest glared at them. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name!” he shouted. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching. And you are trying to make us guilty of this man’s blood. You must stop!”
The apostles answered plainly. “We must obey God, rather than men!” they said. “The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead. The same Jesus you had killed by hanging Him on a cross! God has made Him a Prince and Savior. He will give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.”
The leaders shook with anger. They really wanted to have the apostles put to death. But they could not. Too many people believed that these were God’s men. And through it all, the apostles stood firm. Jesus was more important to them than their own lives.