“We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.”
The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is often called Easter Vigil or Holy Saturday. On this day we reflect in sorrow on the death of Jesus for our sake. Our sins were so serious that, in order to save us, Jesus had to take on suffering so horrible that we cannot really imagine it. But we also look ahead in hope, because we know that on Easter Sunday Jesus rose in victory over death and conquered the grave so that we can have life!
In our reading from Acts today, the apostles of Jesus speak out to the authorities who are persecuting them. The apostles remind the authorities that they had Jesus “killed by hanging him on a tree,” a reference to Deuteronomy 21:23, as we noted yesterday (see also Galatians 3:13). These disciples of Jesus are emboldened to speak because they have confidence and power from the Holy Spirit to speak the truth, saying, “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Hearing that, the authorities want to kill Jesus’ followers, but Gamaliel, a wise teacher, stops them. He gives reasonable advice, and we can be assured that this comes from the wisdom of God, for Gamaliel says, “Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
As we look ahead to Easter, let’s remember that nothing, not even death, can stand against the Lord, who loves us.
Lord, fill us with hope and trust in you always. Amen.