Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of Proper 14: Year 2
“But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. Then he said to them, ‘Fellow-Israelites, consider carefully what you propose to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and disappeared. After him Judas the Galilean rose up at the time of the census and got people to follow him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!” (Acts 5:34 – 39)
This is very wise counsel from the Pharisee Gamaliel. He uses their history to show that there have been people who have come before but did not prove lasting. When these former leaders rose up to change things, people followed as long as the leader was alive. But when he died, they scattered.
Our Lord Jesus said the same thing about “striking the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.” But Jesus left good and faithful shepherds in his place. And as Jesus rose from the dead, more and more followers came to follow him. It is still hard for me to wrap my head around having the apostles flogged before releasing them but that is what happened. I think the flogging them is because of the jealousy of the High Priests. They were about human designs, not Godly ones.
So while the other want-to-be leaders lost people when they died, our Lord Jesus gained more and more, and, is still gaining followers today. Yes, Gamaliel, Jesus is from God, and no one will be able to overthrow us. With daily Christian practices where two or three come together, in person or virtually, we will always have someone who keeps the Christian fires going even if something happens to those who lead. We will prevail in this life, and certainly in the next.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John