Will You Take The Stripes?
And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. — Acts 5:40-42
Well, as we have discovered over many days of devotionals in Acts chapter five, these followers took a stand for Jesus. And God intervenes in their situation, but they are not completely off the hook. We see here they are flogged or beaten.
Flogging was the standard for religious punishment in their time. And this was not your grandmother's spanking. This was a brutal whipping with a calfskin whip. A guilty person would expose their upper torso, be forced to kneel and receive around 40 skin lacerating lashes. Two-thirds were delivered to the back. One-third were delivered to the front. Leaving a person scarred for life as a permanent sign of shame. And on many occasions, people died from this flogging.
But notice how the followers respond. They have two striking responses to the flogging. First, it says they left "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name" of Jesus. Their attitude is exactly the opposite of what one would expect. Typically the stripes they bore on their body were a sign of great dishonor and public ridicule. People left visually scared and emotionally shamed for suffering in this way. But they did not see the punishment or wounds in the same way because they suffered for doing right, not wrong. Second, we see this did nothing to alter their mission. They continued to speak in the name of Jesus. In fact, it works to increase their zeal. So basically, the council's efforts to deter the disciples not only did not work, it may have helped.
What we are witnessing here is a faithful few who plow the way for others to believe. These men verbalize the truth, take a stand, accept the punishment, and stay on mission. And the obstacle at this moment is verbal and physical violence that masquerades as religious and political zeal.
Every season of our life will be met by those who use verbal and physical violence to persuade compliance to ways with which oppose the truth. In some cases, the violence and resultant fear and shame might deter us from speaking and acting on mission. Yet, at some point, we all have to learn how to overcome human fear and shame of verbal and physical violence when doing what God requires of us. But the question that this forces us to answer is: Are you willing to take the stripes for Jesus?
And then remember, he did for you.
ASK THIS: Are you willing to take the stripes for standing up for Christ?
DO THIS: Reflect on why or why not (Share this below and let's learn from one another)
PRAY THIS: God, use me to lead the way.
PLAY THIS: He Knows — Jeremy Camp.
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