You killed the Christ

On a recent read through the book of Acts, I was startled by the apostles’ boldness. “You killed the Christ,” they told their audience more than once.

The varying responses to this claim are fascinating.

Peter gave his famous sermon at Pentecost which ended with “…this Jesus whom you crucified” (2:36). The response of his listeners? “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (2:37). They were cut to the heart. Convicted. And they wanted to know the steps to restoration.

Later, Peter and John made a similarly blunt claim (4:10). Their boldness astonished the religious leaders, who told them not to talk about Jesus anymore (4:18). Shhh. Now, just run along and don’t disturb the peace.

But the apostles didn’t stop being bold, which landed them in prison. “…you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us,” complained the high priest (5:28). But the apostles answered with yet another claim that the leaders had killed Jesus “by hanging on a tree” (5:30). When the council heard this, they were so angry that they wanted to kill the apostles (5:33).

Then courageous Stephen proclaimed before his accusers, “…the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered…” (7:52).

But by now, the religious leaders had had enough. “Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him” (7:54). And then they stoned him to death.

Each time the apostles spoke these words, their hearers had the chance to respond to the burn of the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Some were cut to the heart. Some tried to quench the Spirit’s voice. Some were enraged, gnashed their teeth, and murdered.

What about me? What about you? How do we respond to conviction?


Photo by Henrique Jacob on Unsplash

Reluctance and gratitude

9:30. All I wanted to do was get ready for bed and curl up with a book for an hour or two.

My phone buzzed. It was my friend: “My son is sick. I have to take him to the ER but I can’t go alone.”

“He’s sick? What does he have?” My mind was spinning with ways to get out of her indirect request. I’d had enough experiences with friends using the ER for an easy prescription for medication. Queasy stomachs, aching wrists, stuffy noses.

“He’s had diarrhea since yesterday. That is not good at all. It takes all of the liquids out of his body.”

I imagined myself tromping 40 minutes across town to sit in the stuffy ER full of others with similarly unimpressive diseases. I didn’t want to.

“Is he drinking water? Does he have a fever?”

“Yes, a lot of water like usual. No fever.”

It was sounding less serious, admittedly. But what kind of a friend was I? This friend was a first time mother, hours away from her own mother’s wealth of experience and advice. And her husband was less than helpful on most matters. She just needed someone to walk with her. So it was decided: for the sake of this relationship, I should slay my desire for relaxation!

I groaned. I know I did. And probably more than once. After a long day, this felt more like drama than reality.

Soon another message arrived. She was going to pharmacy instead. (Had she sensed my reluctance?) If it got worse, she would let me know.

“Let me know when you know more. Meanwhile, I’ll pray for him,” I told her, still wondering if I should be putting on sneakers instead of pajamas.

She came back from the pharmacy with a syrup. We discussed the case a bit more and decided to wait and see how he was doing in the morning. The case seemed to be more of an excuse to overreact than a real danger.

Her parting comment was, “Thank you for always listening to me.”

Suddenly, I felt guilty. Even after my less-than-compassionate response, she had come back to thank me. Her gratitude shone a light in a dark corner of my heart.