Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life. - Vs 20
It's the middle of night and the apostles find themselves imprisoned, "guests" of the high priest. Their crime? Preaching in the name of Christ. performing signs and wonders, and making disciples. But in spite of the high priest's paranoia, the disciples are miraculously set free by an angel of the Lord, who gives them the instructions found in verse 20.
He tells them to speak "the whole message of this Life." The life of Jesus Christ to be exact. You see, the angel wasn't instructing them to tell about their own lives or the Christian life in general, but about the life of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Which is exactly what they did upon their release. They made a beeline to the temple and began to teach. What did they teach? Well, we get an idea of the content of their message a little bit later in the passage.
It seems that when the high priest sent for the apostles the next morning, the guards found locked doors, but no prisoners. Instead, he gets the news that they are in the temple teaching the people! So he has them picked up again, and confronts them about their behavior: "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intent to bring this man's blood upon us." The apostles were teaching in Jesus' name. But what were they teaching? They were teaching the "whole message of this Life." Take a look at verses 30-32 and you can see an outline of what this "whole message" contained.
- Jesus was crucified and put to death
- But God raised Him to life again
- Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father - a place of authority
- He has been confirmed as a Prince (literally "one that takes the lead in any thing and thus affords an example, a predecessor in a matter, pioneer")
- He has been exalted as Savior (literally "deliverer")
- His position gives Him theauthority to grant repentance and forgiveness of sins
- God has sent the Holy Spirit as a witness that all these things are true
This is the message, the whole message, and nothing but the message! It is what is meant to proclaim the name of Jesus. It is to tell of His life. Which is the reason the religious leaders wanted to stifle their preaching. Look at Vs 40: "They flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus." They didn't want to hear His life story any more, especially the part about His resurrection. Because it put a huge crimp in their religious style. If what they said about His life was true, then His claims about who He claimed to be would have to be true. And they didn't want to go there.
So how did the apostles respond to the warning?
So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. - Vs 41-42
How could they do that? What was their motivation? Peter makes it clear in verse 29. "We must obey God rather than men." Peter and the apostles couldn't help but tell the whole message. They couldn't help but speak the name of Jesus. They couldn't help but teach and preach Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Even if it meant imprisonment. In fact, they rejoiced that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.
To speak His name is to proclaim Him as Jesus the Christ. It is to announce Him as Savior. It is to declare Him to be God and the Lord of this earth. It is to freely admit that He is exactly who He claimed to be. And...
...there is salvation in no one else; for these is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. - Acts 4:12
Father, forgive me for failing to proclaim Your Son's name, for refusing to speak the whole message of His life. His name represents who He is and what He has done. Give me increasing boldness to tell His story to all those I meet. Let my life be a increasingly clearer picture of the life-transforming power of His name. I want others to see Him in me. Amen.