Tuesday 09 May 2017

Bible Book:

“But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, ‘Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.’” (vv. 19-20)

Acts 5:12-32 Tuesday 9 May 2017

Psalm: Psalm 150


Angels? Someone once calculated how large a breastbone an angelwould need to have enough muscle to gain lift off with those wingswe see in Victorian pictures. It would stick out about six feet inold money! Ridiculous! And I'm already losing the plot. That's theproblem with visual images. They stay in your mind. Sometimes it'sbetter to read the language of the Bible rather than try to makesense of the pictures it excavates from our memories.

Translated literally 'angel' means messenger. Now bring thatinto today's world and we have a messenger opening the prisondoors. Get rid of that ethereal, other-worldly sketch and thenarrative takes on a courageous sense of reality. What if the'angel' is another Christian, perhaps a persuaded member of theprison guards, taking a risk, acting in resistance against thosewho would wish to silence and put out of business these people whoare threatening the 'true religion' handed down overgenerations?

This makes sense of the encouragement that the angel gives tothe erstwhile captives. Hold onto the angelic, the miraculous ifyou will, but for me the story makes more sense without it and ismore true to the situation and, crucially, the meaning of thewords, the biblical narrative.

What comes next? Those men are '"are standing in the temple andteaching the people" (v. 25). What we read here is also telling:"Then the captain went with the temple police and brought them, butwithout violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by thepeople" (v. 26). Brought without violence: now there might be afear of some metaphysical force, but the weight of resistance ofthe people is immediately prevalent, physically on their doorstep.And if one of them is actually on the inside, as it were, this isthoroughly problematic.

Take my suggestions or leave them, what shines through is thetenacity and courage of those who persist in doing good and inperpetuating love in the presence of tyranny, even at the risk ofimprisonment or their lives.

To Ponder

  • How much do you love your neighbours? Enough to riskprosecution or death when you demonstrate that love?
  • How should you resist tyranny in the world today?
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