And as they spoke to the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came on them,…
I. WHEN GOD IS CARRYING ON ANY DESIGN FOR THE MANIFESTATION OF HIS GLORY GREAT OPPOSITION WILL BE MADE TO IT. Satan will not remain a quiet spectator, and his servants will be stirred up to his assistance. In this combination it ought not to surprise us to find, not only persons of profane principles and wicked lives, but some who, in consequence of their apparent attachment to religion, might have been expected to range themselves on the opposite side. When God way setting His Son on His holy hill of Zion, not only did the "heathen" rage, who were ignorant of prophecy, and had not seen the miracles of Jesus, but the favoured "people," to whom the oracles of God were committed, and among whom the Messiah had appeared, "imagined a vain thing."
II. GOD MAY EXPOSE HIS PEOPLE TO MUCH DISCOURAGEMENT WHEN THEY ARE WALKING IN HIS OWN WAY. The apostles preached Christ by express commission from heaven, and on their success. depended the conversion of the world. Yet in the outset they were opposed by the supreme authority in the nation. In the course of their ministry they were subjected to danger and suffering, and most of them lost their lives in the cause. Superficial reasoners may conclude that God is at variance with Himself, retarding the execution of His own plans, and may complain that, instead of rewarding, He punishes men for their zeal and fidelity. "But the foolishness of God is wiser than men." By such dispensations He exercises the faith of His servants, and makes known His power in carrying on His designs in spite of the utmost efforts of His adversaries; while in the behaviour of His people, such examples of courage, patience, and love are exhibited, as afford no slight testimony to the truth of religion. Converts are made by the sufferings of the saints as well as by their doctrine.
III. CHRIST REQUIRES NO SERVICE FOR WHICH HE DOES NOT FURNISH THEM WITH NECESSARY AID. He is no hard taskmaster. As His commandments are reasonable, so His grace strengthens us to obey them. When Peter and John were called to plead His cause before the Jewish council, they were "filled with the Holy Ghost." Hence did cowardly fishermen become undaunted apostles; hence have simple and uneducated men put learning to silence; hence have feeble and delicate women endured with unshaken firmness, cruel tortures, and death in its most terrible forms. "As thy day, so shall thy strength be."
IV. GREAT IS THE TRUTH, AND IT WILL PREVAIL. It confounded and silenced the Jewish council; it made foolish the wisdom of the world, vanquishing its vain philosophy and sophistical eloquence by the plain doctrine of the Cross; it will, in like manner, triumph over infidelity, superstition, heresy, and licentiousness. From what it has already done we may calculate the effects which are yet to be expected from it (Psalm 110:2, 3).
V. LET US BE CAREFUL TO MAINTAIN A GOOD CONSCIENCE IN OUR RELIGIOUS PROFESSION. This was the constant study of the apostles, and hence they considered not what was honourable in the eyes of the world, what was advantageous or safe, but solely what was right. It was God only whom they were resolved to obey, and they minded not the contrary commands and threatenings of men. You will never enjoy peace of mind, you will never act uprightly and consistently till you learn to regulate your conduct by the fixed standard of truth and rectitude, and not by the shifting opinions and fancies of men. Beware of the vain attempt to serve two masters. The result of such an attempt will be that you will serve neither of them fully, and will lose the reward promised by both.
(J. Dick, A. M.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,