now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. but when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, “we found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. and someone came and told them, “look! the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. [acts 5:21b-26]
the world is perplexed by the power of God.
a couple of years ago, we were at the house of my in-laws. we had brought the dog, and so when it was time to leave for a christmas eve service, we put her in her crate in the entryway and went along our way without a thought. but when we returned, she was not in the crate. somehow, she had gotten out. however, the doors to the crate were both still locked. imagine our confusion as we stood there dumbfounded trying to grasp at possible solutions. but we came up with nothing. it still remains a mystery to this day!
so i have a small taste of what these guards must have felt when they went to retrieve the prisoners. they were perplexed! their perplexity even gave them a healthy fear when dealing with the prisoners. imagine them asking the apostles if they would kindly return to the courtroom for their trial!
it was the power of God that caused this perplexion. and the world still stands perplexed at his power today. they may not confess it, but it’s no secret. the world stands perplexed at the majesty of a sunrise. it stands perplexed at the solemn grandeur of a canyon. it revels in the complexity of a hurricane and lingers in befuddlement the more it discovers of the universe beyond our galaxy. They are perplexed at God’s power to create new life, or save a life, or take a healthy one. They are perplexed when he works things together just right, or when he frustrates plans and brings them to their knees.
today, together, as the bride of Christ, and individually as God’s beloved child, let’s stand in awe of the power of God. think back at the last five years, ten years, maybe even back to the beginning. how has God’s power been revealed? how has he saved you and kept you, how has he disciplined you and comforted you? we can stand in the same awe and amazement that the soldiers showed when faced with this power, but we surely are not confused about its Source. we know we serve an Almighty Infinite God who speaks a word and creation obeys because his word does not return to him void. he gives voice to donkeys and shuts the mouths of lions. he gives the sea its boundaries and directs the symphony of the wind. he calls out the stars by name and he knits man together in the womb. he upholds the universe by the word of his power. in him all things hold together. no, we do not question the source of power in the world. and we do not deny it. we fall to our knees in praise and adoration. with a heart of worship, we stand together as a people who fear the Lord, and together we proclaim his glory to a world that desperately needs it.
for I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the jew first and also to the greek. [romans 1:16]
~ arwen eastman