“The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.” Acts 4.1-4
It was good while it lasted! Some would say the early church isn’t as smooth sailing as first believed. It wasn’t but a few weeks after Jesus had been raised from the dead, days after he’s ascended into Heaven, that his followers are being arrested and put in jail. They just can’t win!
Peter and John are preaching to the people in the temple. This was the main hub of Judaism. They were in Solomons Temple courts, a ten story towering edifice, on a 37 acre spread on the top of Mount Moriah in the heart of God’s holy city Jerusalem. This is where, even today, Jews worship, read and pray 24-7 for the coming of the Messiah and God’s Kingdom.
This is where the disciples are preaching. Tons of activity. Jews and Gentiles from all over the world coming to make sacrifices or pay homage to Yahweh, the King and God of Israel. Yet this King, whom they killed, is alive again and his name is Jesus. And his disciples are continuing to proclaim his message of salvation to a world deep in sin. A world in need of saving.
The same temple guards and members of the Sadducees who put Jesus to death are now arresting Peter and John. They put them in prison for the night because they were ”proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” And as a result, many more people believed. How many? The number of ”men who believed grew to about five thousand,” not including women and children.
This is a significant number. Five thousand men, Jews and Gentiles alike, turning to faith in Jesus. Believing upon his name, being baptized, and telling their friends, families and neighbors the same good news. Five thousand men set free from sin and delivered from darkness, filled with the Holy Spirit and becoming instant preachers and missionaries for the cause of Christ.
This number really is astronomical. From twelve disciples of Jesus, to five thousand, to over one billion today. People awakening to the fact that God is who he said he is. That salvation and redemption is available to all — men and women, young and old, Jew and Gentile, rich or poor. All are welcomed at the foot of the cross.
“O Lord God, you are good! When my love fails, your love remains steadfast. When I stumble, you pick me up. When I turn from the light, you draw me back to the fold. Come now, Holy Spirit, fall upon me. Keep my feet on the path and my heart in sync with your mission for the world. Use me as you will for Kingdom grow and disciple making. I love you Lord and praise your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen