” When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.” (Acts 5:33 ESV)
The council was miffed. Enraged even and ready to kill. How dare these punks come into the temple and challenge us. They just haven’t behaved and keep preaching the name of this Jesus. There is a lot of this type of tension in the Bible. A message is proclaimed, it makes people jealous or just plain nervous and they set out to kill. And what was it that they heard and became so enraged?
“The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:30-32 ESV)
Did you catch that? Sure there was that piece about killing Jesus, but that was true so what could make the council so angry? Repentance and forgiveness.
Turning from the old ways of rebellion and being forgiven. Why were they not rejoicing at the preaching of this message? They could be forgiven! For some reason, the Spirit of God had not transformed their hearts in such a way that they recognized their need for repentance and forgiveness and we can look on this account and think, ‘bummer, you missed such a good message.’ But then I realize that I get enraged at the message too.
I love that I am forgiven. I don’t love that I need to repent. And I don’t love that others are forgiven because frankly, I don’t like them and want to keep this grace things for myself alone. When I don’t extend grace and forgive in the way I have been forgiven, I reject the message with the same veracity that the council did in Acts 5. I don’t say this to guilt us into forgiving but instead to throw us with more force to Jesus and his eternal, matchless forgiveness. I know I am prone to being enraged, and I have met plenty of people enraged when I am the one preaching grace and forgiveness. But in all cases the way of hope, the way of salvation is Jesus.
I need not be angered by the message of grace. I benefit greatly, beyond my imagination actually. And I have no need of being enraged when others preach it, hear it, embrace it and live in the midst of it. Because of who we are in Christ we can now revel in this message of forgiveness. We celebrate it. Get to work on celebrating today.