THROUGH THE NARROW GATE

Opening Prayer

Thank you, heavenly Father for your Spirit’s work in me. Continue to restore and transform me.

Read ACTS 5:12–16

The Apostles Heal Many

12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

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New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

Is your church an enigma that creates curiosity and questions?

Think Further

The healing of the lame man in the temple1 was an exceptional miracle, but it did not stand alone. It was an example of the ‘signs and wonders’ (v. 12) that were an ongoing aspect of the apostles’ ministry. Despite this, Luke reports that people were afraid to join the Jesus movement. We have a seeming contradiction: the evidence that the kingdom of God was present led people to admire the believers, but they did not dare to join them! This new community attracted onlookers, while also repelling them.

There are several factors that explain this situation. First, this statement comes immediately after the disturbing story of Ananias and Sapphira, which concludes with the statement that ‘great fear seized … all who heard about these events’ (v. 11). This event caused inquirers to think twice about joining a group in which the glory of God was so clearly present. Second, the onlookers knew that the demands of discipleship within this group were high and such a way of life was impossible without the grace and power of the resurrected Christ. Third, the tensions between the people of the Way and the temple authorities remained great and were about to increase. Potential converts had to be ready to commit themselves to a community facing persecution and suffering. Put these three factors together and we can appreciate why ‘No one else dared join them’ (v. 13).

However, Luke adds a ‘nevertheless’: despite the obstacles to faith, ‘more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number’ (v. 14). What is stressed here is the reality of conversion, of an encounter with Jesus which resulted in the obstacles to faith and discipleship being outweighed by the experience of grace and new life.

Apply

Do our churches inspire the admiration and fear that lead to conversion and growth?

Closing prayer

Lord Jesus, use the church—use me—to draw many to you, the only one who can meet their deepest needs.

Last Updated on May 31, 2024 by kingstar

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