Picture the scene: the religious leaders of a religious city have some dissident preachers arrested and thrown in prison. The next morning they gather to discuss and decide what to do (v.21). To their shock the prisoners are gone yet nothing looks amiss at the prison (vv.22-23). There is confusion and a genuine lack of understanding as to how this has all happened (v.24). News reaches this council of leaders that their prisoners are standing in their own space, the temple, and still preaching (v.25). The council set off to bring them in again, but this time without force and harassment in case anyone stands up for these miraculous escapees (v.26). Then, they level a fascinating accusation:
“We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name. Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood on us!”
(Acts 5.28, NET, emphasis added)
The fact that they had filled Jerusalem with [their] teaching was beyond doubt. Then, interestingly, the high priest speaking for the council says that the apostles [intended] to bring this man’s blood on [them]!
Was the goal of their peaching to induce guilt? Did the apostles want to make the religious leaders feel utterly terrible about the part they played in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus? Is this what is meant by having His blood on them?
Or, were they seeking to have the religious leaders, those entrusted with the guardianship of the Old Testament Scriptures (a body of text that testifies in every nook and cranny about Jesus’ coming) come to faith in Him? Is this what the high priest means by “…you intend to bring this man’s blood on us!”?
Perhaps it is both. Perhaps from the perspective of the religious leaders it was felt that the preaching of the apostles was nothing more than an attempt at insurrection. Rather, it was a testimony to the resurrection. A continuing witness not to insurrection, but resurrection. It can be so interesting to see how different perspectives on the preaching of the Gospel can view such a seminal event. I love what David Guzik wrote on this:
“The high priest no doubt meant that the apostles intended to hold the Jewish leaders responsible, in some measure, for the execution of Jesus (as in Acts 2:23). Yet, we know that the apostles must have desired for the high priest and the other Jewish leaders to come to faith in Jesus, even as some other priests did (Acts 6:7). For certain, the apostles wanted to bring the covering, cleansing blood of Jesus upon the high priest and others in the council”.
Today then, take a moment and think about how you think about the cross of Christ and its preaching. How does it make you feel?
Read 1 Corinthians 1.18-31 and see how different perspectives on the cross show themselves in our lives.