This New Life

“Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.” – Acts 5:20

The task of the Church is really very simple. We’ve made it complicated and bureaucratic, built a business and bought real estate, but the reality is we really need none of that.

It’s all very simple- We’ve received this “new life” and we’re just supposed to go out and tell the whole world about it so they can get in on it too!

Let it sink in.

The Apostles had just been arrested and put in jail because they were out and about doing exactly that. They were telling people about Jesus, spreading the good news, and God was doing some pretty miraculous things. People were getting healed and were being delivered from evil spirits and the word was starting to get out that some pretty awesome stuff was happening in peoples lives. So guess what happens? The religious people start getting jealous- really jealous! They should have been happy, but they’re mad. Someone else is getting the attention and not them. They saw the Apostles as competitors, like someone stealing customers from their business, and they decided to do something about it. The CEO and his staff, I mean, “The high priest and all his associates” (Acts 5:17) have them arrested and thrown in jail.

Now understand these are the big guys. They have “the temple” and all the religious authority and power. If you live in Jerusalem you can’t miss the temple, it’s right there staring you in the face! They have the weight of tradition and history behind them. They speak on behalf of God to the people, everyone knows that. They have the religious edifice- the place where man meets with God, and not just any man- one of their own,”The High Priest”.

“But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.” -Hebrews 9:7

Now I need to pause for a second to clarify something- It wasn’t that the temple was bad. The earthly temple was originally built according to God’s plan and design (Please read Hebrews chapters 8-10). And having a high priest that served there? That was God’s idea too. But somewhere along the line something had gone terribly wrong. The religious leaders of the day had the form and function down to a science, but they never seemed to have been impacted by “this new life” in the same way the Apostles had. Had they been impacted they never would have had it in for Jesus. The religious leaders were constantly trying to lay a trap for Jesus and when Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests to betray Jesus they were “delighted”. (Mark 14:11)

Delighted? This is the height of religion gone wrong!

The religious rulers had form and function and ritual and law but they lacked the most important thing- the life!

“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” -John 1:4

When that light appeared they rejected it! To them Jesus was only a threat to their religion and they were determined to put an end to Him. Which they did in short order. A strange thing happened though on the day of His death.

“When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He yielded up His spirit. At that moment the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split.” – Matthew 27:50-51

At the very temple the religious leaders adored, yes, the temple God Himself had instituted- an unmistakable sign was given- The curtain to the entrance of the Holy of Holies was torn in two, signifying that Jesus was the ONLY WAY to meet with and be reconciled to God.

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way opened for us through the curtain of His body… -Hebrews 10:19-20

 

This new and living way

So let’s pause a minute and consider what happened here- the old religious way of doing things (which the bible calls only a shadow) is being replaced by “a new and living way”. The old way had a curtain that one must pass to get to the Holiest Place. That curtain has been ripped in two and now we are told of a “new and living way opened for us through the curtain of His [Jesus] body” to be able to enter the Holiest Place.

Jesus had changed everything.

The religious leaders of the time either didn’t get or wouldn’t accept the memo! As I mentioned earlier the Apostles did get it, and were acting on it. The Apostles were out telling everyone they could about this “new life” and how to get in on it.

The religious leaders hated this! All this “new life” talk was getting in the way of their old religion. They had the Apostles thrown in jail, but, “an angel of the Lord” showed up and opened the doors of the jail so the Apostles could escape. The Apostles are told to keeping telling people about “this new life”, but notice where they are told to go first-

“Go, stand in the temple courts,– Acts 5:20

He doesn’t just tell them to go to the bagel shop and talk to people having breakfast. He tells them to go stand in “the temple courts“.

They were to told to come face to face with the religious system of their day and say some things that system did not want to hear! The religious leaders were very sure that they had everything they needed at “the temple” and nobody was going to tell them otherwise.

Could it be that we’re in a similar situation today? Is it possible that we’re living in the age of “the Church of Laodicea”? Is it possible that we are religiously content, and sure that we are “in need of nothing”? Could Jesus be standing at the door of the Church knocking?

And what about those who are out and about trying to wake the Church? All this knocking may be thought of as an annoyance by those who are sleeping!

If we have “this new life” let’s share it. We don’t need the edifice, the structure, the religion. Some today are threatened when they hear this just as the religious leaders were put off in Jesus’ day. They love “the temple”, they love the religious ceremony, they’re attached to the whole thing and don’t want to let go of it.

Let me conclude by being very repetitious- What the Church has been called to is really very simple“Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.” – Acts 5:20

 

 



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