There are 2 voices in your head.
There are 2 guys perched on your shoulder, telling you what to do.
We’ve all seen them in the movies and the cartoons – but face it: you’ve got those 2 guys on your shoulders as well.
But don’t feel bad, so did the apostles of Jesus Christ.
For them, the voices were real and audible, and they gave the apostles a fairly clear choice in life.
In verse 20, an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, saying, “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”
But in verse 17 of chapter 4 they were expressly commanded by the Jewish leaders to not speak the name of Jesus. Having disobeyed this command once, they found themselves in prison. Having been released by the angel, they were commanded by the angel to speak again in Jesus’ name. Having spoken in Jesus’ name, they were rounded by up by the Jewish leaders and reminded that they had been commanded not to speak in Jesus name and had already been thrown into prison.
They were put in the position that all of God’s people are put in: they were forced to make a choice.
“Choose for yourselves whom you will serve this day,” they were, in effect, told (Joshua 24:15). Their choice was a stark and clear one: serve the Lord and endure persecution, shame, and physical pain, or serve the Jews and, well, probably suffer no immediate tangible consequences.
On a human and immediately calculable level, their choice seemed clear: stop speaking in the Name of Jesus. Surely there must be some more subtle way for them to be Christians. I know! What if they said to themselves: “We prefer not to wear our Christianity on our sleeves. We prefer to let people know we’re Christians by what we do. That way we could live to fight another day. We won’t be much use to God all beat up and imprisoned.”
That sounds reasonable, doesn’t? Yes, it does. And so does, “Did God say? You shall not surely die.” Hey, what about this one: “All these things I will give you if you fall down and worship me.” Or how ‘bout: “You don’t have to die tomorrow. Surely your Father wouldn’t make you do that!”
And so it is that there is often a third voice speaking to us, not only the clear voice of God or the clear voice of the world, but the sweet and sensible, subtle and syncretistic, voice of Satan (or sometimes just our flesh).
But the apostles would have none of it. To them, there was only one voice worth listening to, no matter what it said, and that was the voice of their Master. They also knew the One who was speaking, Jesus, their Lord. They knew that the One who had just said, “Go and speak in My Name” was also the One who had said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.”
And so they obeyed their Master, willing to be beaten for Him, as He was scourged and beaten for them. More than this, they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name (verse 41). This Peter that was beaten for His Lord is the same Peter who said, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials” (I Peter 1:6). He also said, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed” (I Peter 4:14). And again, he says, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of the men, but for the will of God” (I Peter 4:1-2).
Finally, he says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified” (I Peter 4:12-14).
Whew! That wasn’t the direction I had intended to go this morning. But Peter carried me away. Peter made me do it, honest!
I think Peter knew what he was talking about when he wrote these words. He didn’t write them as an armchair theologian but as one who had suffered for His Lord.
Our choice is clear: we must obey God rather than men.
But as if often the case, I’ve got a little problem. It’s not that I don’t want to obey with courage and faith. It’s just that, well, things aren’t quite as clear as I’d like them to be. After all, I haven’t had an angel tell me exactly what to do. And if I got up and spoke in the name of Jesus in the good ol’ U.S. of A., not much would happen to me.
In other words, we’re left again to apply the experiences of the apostles to our lives.
And that’s where you come in. I’m not even going to attempt to make a specific application from this passage. Wanna know why?
That’s your assignment today.
Prayer: Father, by Your Spirit help me to boldly proclaim the Name of Jesus Christ in my life. Give me the grace to not fall prey to the temptations and threats of the world, the flesh, and the devil. If it be your will that I suffer for His Name, may I rejoice to be counted a worthy partaker of my Lord. Amen.
Point for Meditation:
- Have you been avoiding speaking about Jesus Christ when you know you should have?
- Think about what opportunities you have during the course of your week to speak in the Name of Jesus Christ. There are many possible ways this could happen.
Resolution: I resolve to find one way in which my Lord wants me to speak or act boldly in His Name today.
Gatehouse with Saint Peter delivered, by David Teniers the Younger – U.S. Public Domain