When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it–lest you even be found to fight against God.”
And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
This was very good advice which accomplished two things—the appeasement of the religious leaders and secured the release of the apostles. If Jesus’ ministry was a sham like the others, then it would meet the same fate but it came from God, then it cannot be overthrown because it would be like fighting against God.
We shouldn’t let people who oppose us get to us because we have God on our side. We serve a Saviour who didn’t claim to be somebody He was not. He was exactly whom He said He was—the Messiah, Saviour, Son of God, I AM. He was crucified but that was God’s plan. It was the only way for us to be saved. In His own words, Jesus indicated how He was to die. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
When the people rebelled against God, poisonous snakes bit them and many died. Those remaining went to Moses and acknowledged that they had sinned against God and asked him to pray for them. Moses prayed for them and God told him to put a bronze snake on a pole and when anyone who was bitten by a snake looked at it, he or she would live. Similarly, anyone who looked to Jesus who was lifted up on the cross, believing that He could save them, would live.
Suffice to say, the apostles were not dispersed because Christ’s ministry failed, they went to different parts because they were instructed to go to all nations and peoples and preach the Word. To this day, people all over the world are coming to Christ because of others who are witnessing to them, conducting Bible Studies or holding evangelistic meetings. God’s plan cannot be overthrown. He Himself said, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Acts 5:33-42; John 3:14-17; Isaiah 55:11