and when he saw that it pleased the jews, he proceeded to arrest peter also. this was during the days of unleavened bread. [acts 12:3]
herod antipas, trying to curry favor with the romans and jews for political reasons, murders james the brother of john–and he sees a reaction that should stop us cold:
it pleases the jews.
even if they considered stephen wicked,
even if they considered james wicked,
even if they considered Jesus wicked,
they should not be pleased–they would well heed the word of God:
say to them, as i live, declares the Lord God, i have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, o house of israel? [ezekiel 33:10-12]
it is not in God’s nature to take pleasure when people turn from him, it leads to death–and of course, the irony of the situation is that stephen, james, Jesus and all of the other martyred saints are not the wicked, anyone who dies with the name of Jesus on their lips is one who is declared righteous!
these leaders are pleased because they think that the death of these new ‘christians’ will result in them holding on to their positions of power and influence. but they are wrong, without Christ, they are doomed for eternity.
there is a term in german ‘schadenfreude’ which means taking pleasure in another’s misfortune–as we spend time in the Lord’s presence let us ask him to examine our hearts–where am i currently delighting in another’s misfortune? where am i being influenced by the satisfaction and pleasure of anyone other than God?
who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
and who shall stand in his holy place?
he who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
he will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. [psalm 24:4-6]
who can do this? only Christ!
he was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” when the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. but Jesus came and touched them, saying, “rise, and have no fear.” and when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. [matthew 17:5-8]
let us take pleasure in Jesus, let us see no one but Jesus only!