This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on April 3, 2016.
Acts 5:27-32 is part of a larger story that unfolds in Acts 5:12-42. The narrative summarizes the apostles’ work in Jerusalem which leads to their arrest. During the night, an angel of the Lord releases the apostles, sending them back to the temple to continue proclaiming the gospel message. Ever faithful, they return at daybreak, jump right back into preaching, and are arrested once again. This time the apostles are brought before the high priest and Sanhedrin. Today’s passage comprises the accusations of the high priest against them and the apostles’ bold response to the charges. The context alone sets up a possible focus for preaching. The apostles preach the gospel, encounter imprisonment, are miraculously released, and immediately get back to preaching the gospel – in the exact same place their message seemed to fail the first time!
How often are we eager to shake the dust off our feet when opposition to our faithfulness arises? There is a time for counting our losses and moving on, but the preacher might want to consider encouraging the call to return to hard places, to keep at the work of faithfulness, and to proclaim the good news again regardless of the results we see. Twice the apostles preached in the temple. Twice they were arrested. Once they were flogged. And yet, Acts 5 concludes with the apostles rejoicing in their sufferings and preaching in the temple every single day. Too often, discouragement and indifference creep in, and we cease to proclaim the gospel. There is a great witness that comes from those who keep at it. This may be a week of picking up the apostles’ torch and keeping at it!