Monday, July 4, 2011

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters....

Acts 5:12-17(NASB) At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed. But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy.
While reading through this Scripture this morning, there were a few things that stood out to me.  The first is the gathering place of the Apostle’s, Solomon’s Portico or Porch as it is called, and what was so significant about it. Second were the signs and wonders that were happening during the apostle’s ministry, including healing and the casting out of demons. The third is the example that they set for the people and lastly the reaction of the current Judaic leadership to their ministry.
Solomon’s Porch was part of King’s Solomon’s original Judgment Hall; some think that it was left standing by the Chaldean’s when they destroyed the temple because of its ornate beauty.  After the restoration it became the place where the Levites (priests) resided and where the doctors of the law met to hear and answer questions.  It is no wonder that it is a place that Jesus visited often and taught.  This was also an entrance to the inner court.  Another thing about being on the porch is that it signifies bringing ministry outside of the church building.  They even took their ministry to the streets, where the people were.
The supernatural power that was displayed through the apostles was a display of the fullness of the salvation blessings to be found in the Kingdom of God.  They were a means of liberation from the Mosaic Law and the doctrines of man that were enforced by the religious leadership of the day; just like the signs and wonders worked by Moses when he led the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. Unfortunately, when God’s Power is displayed in such ways it causes those in power to get frustrated and afraid.  This frustration scared some of the people from openly following the apostle’s teaching, even though they held the apostles in high esteem.
The Apostles set the example for the people the ministered to, the one thing that they maintained throughout the many tribulations they went through was a sense of unity.  They came together in One Accord in One Spirit, they didn’t undermine each other but supported each other and ministered together.  There was also great fruit that was evidence of their ministry.  People brought the sick into the street so that the “shadow” of Peter would touch them and they would be healed.  I would like to dive into his “shadow” one of these days but not here.  When people from other cities heard what was happening they brought the sick and demon possessed to Jerusalem and they were all being healed.
Ultimately what was being given was freedom.  People were being set free from the Law, free from sickness and free from demons. They have been shown the entry to the inner courts, the gateway to the Kingdom of God, where true freedom and independence is found.
Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.