Criminally Faithful

Isaiah 53:12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

Luke 22:37 For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.

Hebrews 5:8-9 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him

We are going to start at the top. Jesus, the Son of God, was so faithful that He was not only charged as a criminal, but He was also judged and executed as a criminal. For those who felt that they were doing the right thing, the thought in the back of their mind must have been “Phew! Now we can go back to doing what we have always done!”, without having to worry about being convicted of their “sins”.

Matthew 10:16-18 Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake…

Cancel culture is not a new thing. We may have coined a new phrase because our language evolves but cancel culture certainly was taking place in the first century. Jesus was destroying their comfort zones. Everything that they believed in and stood for, was crumbling beneath them because their faith was not built upon the foundation of Jesus being the Son of God. In response to hearing the truth (the Gospel), people will do one of two things. They will either accept it (Acts 2:37) or they will reject it (Acts 4:3; Acts 4:18) As we continue, we will see that it was not just Jesus who was treated inhumanely or unjustly. His disciples were also faithful to the point of being charged as criminals in the eyes of those who disagree with them. They tried everything they could to cancel them out completely!

Acts 5:18, 33 They laid hands on the apostles and put them in public jail…But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them.

Lucky enough for them, Gamaliel talked some sense into these wicked men. He told them that either what they are saying is false and if so, then nothing will come of it -OR- what they are saying is true and if so, then they are fighting against God.

Acts 5:41-42 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.

Not only do we see Jesus being criminally faithful, but we also see His disciples going to that extreme of being criminally faithful. They rejoiced over the fact that their faith caused them to be targeted by those who reject Jesus. It was such a honor for them in their service to be willing to sacrifice their freedom for the sake of preaching the Gospel! For some, it goes to the point of death. Obviously with Jesus, He was crucified. John reveals to us that Peter will die in service (John 21:18-19).

Acts 7:51-60

Stephen is my final example as a man who was criminally faithful until his final breath. These Jews had a completely different response to hearing the truth of their actions. There is no doubt that it can be hard to recognize the pain and suffering that we have caused. We sometimes will turn a blind eye to our actions and words, but we simply cannot behave like these men did. These men were so blinded by their rage that they refused to listen to any logic or reason. We were also warned of this regarding those who will find teachers to scratch their “itch”. They were not going to listen to Stephen anymore, so they killed him for it. They were the judge, jury, and executioner. Consider your faith as you continue down the journey of life.

Are you criminally faithful?

-Lee Elkins