When Guilt Gets the Best of You
Acts 5:27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
The Apostles continued to perform miracles everywhere they went. In many ways it wasn't even that they were trying but the power exuding from them was so great that even if their shadow fell on people they were healed. Obviously the city of Jerusalem was in a complete uproar over what was happening -- people clamoring to see these men. Everywhere they went they were preaching about Jesus and his resurrection. How could they help it -- for he had become the central focus of everything in their lives. They knew that Jesus was the Messiah and they knew that they had experienced power from the Lord on high and this consumed their lives. Jesus was the overwhelming passion of everything in their lives. They couldn't help but speak about him.
The religious officials were very unhappy that these men continued to speak about Jesus. They brought them in to be questioned once again. But this time you see their real motivation. They are not excited about what is happening because of the personal ramifications. They are not excited about the good that is happening to those who need it, instead they are worried about what this means for their own personal actions. They are feeling guilty for what they've done to Jesus. I'm guessing the Apostles were not pointing fingers at the Sanhedrin but were simply preaching Jesus! The indirect implication was that the Sanhedrin were guilty of Jesus' blood -- and they were. This is what bothered them. They were too concerned about themselves.
Have you ever done something that makes you feel guilty? I still remember an incident in fourth grade. I don't even know why I did it -- except that I probably wanted to go out and play with my friend. I had to prepare some kind of a report and I think it was on the State of Idaho. There were all kinds of pieces to it including one on agriculture. All of these little reports were to be bound together into a larger report. I was a good student and I regularly got good grades -- but I was in a hurry. I had other things to do. My best friend Connie was over at the house with me and wanted me to get finished so I could go and play. Finally I remember asking her if she would write the report on "Sisal" for me. Now she had much better penmanship than I did and today has a Ph.D. in English -- so not only was her handwriting better -- her writing was better! I told her to try and write a little sloppy so it would look like my writing. To this day I can still see that page of the report in my mind and it didn't look like my writing at all! I still wonder what my teacher thought when she saw that report….and I still feel guilty. I never, ever did that again in my entire life! But I remember at the time trying to justify myself and one piece of justification led to another and eventually it was as if I could have tried to believe a whole series of things I knew were wrong. But I couldn't. And I remember having to ask Jesus for forgiveness of what I had done.
The Sanhedrin had done an awful thing. Out of jealousy for a man they did not understand they pushed the local authorities to crucify him. Even the secular authorities could not find anything wrong with him or any reason to put him to death. Yet, they gave in to the will of these "religious" folks -- the Sanhedrin. I'm guessing that from the day they had him crucified there were those who had a nagging sense of guilt. Now, it didn't take anyone pointing out their guilt but the simply actions of the Apostles to make them realize how wrong they had been. Instead of facing the fact that what they had done was wrong -- they had to try and defend themselves. Over and over they tried to justify their actions and eventually they were trying to believe an entire string of untruths. Obviously it was the Apostles' fault for making them feel guilty over what had happened. They needed to punish the Apostles! Their guilt had gotten the best of them and now they couldn't stop at simply having killed Jesus, they had to go after his followers as well and suddenly their little lie had grown into a giant cloud which they could no longer contain.
When we are confronted with guilt, we have the opportunity to respond and ask for forgiveness. It is a mechanism which God has built into us so that we can repent. Sadly, the more that we sweep those feelings of guilt under the rug the less sensitized we become to them. Did any of those Sanhedrin ever become followers of the Way? History would tell us that some of them did -- but others did not. They will have lost out for all of eternity as they hung onto their pride. May God humble us today and if guilt grips us, may we turn toward him in a posture of repentance, seeking his forgiveness.
Lord, thank you for the convictions you send our way. Please, help me be sensitive to respond to what you have for us each day! Amen.