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You Will Be Hated

16/11/2019

You Will Be Hated.

Acts 4:1-6. Mark 13:9-14

Jesus had said that His followers would be hated, and following the first miracle, that intense hatred is manifested. Our purpose in this study is to try to demonstrate the hatred the the secular world has for Christ, and for Christians, the breadth of that hatred, and its intensity, and to find an example in the disciples, of the correct Christian attitude in the face of this hatred. 

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You will be hated

1 The Total Enmity of the Pagan World. 

This is what’s known as ‘The First Persecution of the Church.’  The disciples had already leaned about persecution in their three years training in the Master’s Seminary, Mark 13:9   Consider:-

  • The breadth of their hostility.  V1-3  As they were speaking, there arrived a posse of people, to arrest the disciples.  Think about who that posse consisted of, and who was behind their arrest warrant…
    • The priests.  There was a regular cadre of priests, men of the high priestly family and caste who lived in Jerusalem all year round, and to whom Luke is probably referring here.  
    • The Captain of the Temple Guard.  This man is not named here, but he was a very powerful man.  He maintained a private militia, like a police force, to maintain order in Jerusalem, and after the Roman Governor, and the High Priest, he was possibly the third most powerful figure in the land.
    • The Sadducees.  These were the upper class compromisers with Rome, – the moneyed people, who when the Roman occupation had begun, had cosied up to the Romans to maintain their lifestyle and influence.  
    • The elders.They were waiting in the wings.  The older men among the people, who assembled the next day long with the priests to form a kind of kangaroo court… v 
    • The scribes.  These were the lawyers, the learned friends and brethren who copied and interpreted the law.  They would be involved n any trial that was held under the laws of Judaism.  
    • Annas and Caiaphas.  The High Priests.  Annas had been the official High Priest, but the Romans had sacked him, and replaced him with Caiaphas,- his Son-in-Law.  In Israel, though, the High Priest served for life, and so many devout Jews still recognised Annas as the legitimate holder of the office, and it was wise of Caiaphas to keep Annas close….  
    • John and Alexander, and other members of the priestly family. Not the apostle John, of course! These were just family members of the High Priest family.

Now, I’d like you to grasp the amount of people and viewpoints represented here.  They all hated the Christians.

  • The basis of their hostility.   What was it that had these important people so agitated?  
    • The apostles were TEACHING the people.  It wasn’t the disciples’ position to be teaching people, that was the job of the scribes and the lawyers, not a bunch of uneducated rabble!  In v 14, they take note that ‘they were uneducated and untrained men.’  And they note also, that ‘they had been with Jesus.’  
    • They were teaching about the RESURRECTION of the dead. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, so when the disciples testified that Jesus had resent irked them, for it challenged their authority.  The real problem for the authorities is that they are preaching about Jesus, and his resurrection from the dead.   
  • The ferocity of their hostility.  7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” So Peter and the leading apostles are now surrounded by hostile interrogators – they have been ‘set in the midst.’  The angry enemies who surrounded them had the power of life or death over them.  

I can’t imagine the fear in their minds and hearts as that incident occurred and it’s not an exaggeration to say that as the early disciples stood ‘in the midst’ that day, they could have suffered a brutal death.   It was only the fear of the people now that restrained them.  

 

2 The Assertive Witness of the Believers.  Mark 13:11  

Now, I hope you’ve got some sense of the threat and the danger that these men were in.  What was their response?  Remember that Jesus had warned them of this, and had already taught them how to cope with it. 

  • They were not anxious about their safety.when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand.  Whatever happens to us, we know that it is ordained by God in his good and perfect will.  
  • They trusted in God’s promises, and found that they were firm and immutable!  v8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:  The source of their boldness in the face of hatred, came from God Himself, who promised that he would be with us!  
  • They knew that this threat was because of their loyalty to Jesus!  v9  Some suffering is well deserved!  People suffer because of their foolishness, and because of criminal actions, or because of some accident.  But they were facing this terrible hatred because of Jesus! 1 Peter 4:15  
  • They were not ashamed of the Gospel!   v11-12   
    • Law.  The Jews are again directly accused of complicity in the death of Jesus, – it was a crime, a dreadful sin, and Peter doesn’t hide this, – he openly reminds them of their wickedness and sin. 
    • Exclusivity.  There is only ONE way to heaven.  Of course, Peter is simply echoing the words of Jesus in John 14, where he told them, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the father, but by me.’    Jesus is the ONLY saviour.  THERE IS NO OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN, GIVEN AMONG MEN, BY WHICH WE MUST BE SAVED!
    • Grace. The emphasis here is on our salvation.  We MUST be saved, be rescued from our sins, a state that we cannot achieve on our own.  We need Grace, and it’s only found in Jesus.

So, encompassed with this great intimidation, when angry men with the ability to put them to a cruel death are surrounding them, when any common man would have backed down, kept quiet and said nothing, the  disciples are firm and resolute and unafraid, and they fearlessly take this bold and uncompromising stand for Christ.  The pagan culture still hates Christianity, hates Christ and hates Christians.  We are surrounded by our enemies, and they would do us to death, only that God’s restraining hand is upon them.  Let us pray that God would grant us His Holy Spirit to make us as bold as those first believers.

© BobMcEvoy November 2019

From → Acts, Bible Study

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