v 33. When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them.
Now we are talking serious persecution! It was only the wise intervention of Gamaliel recorded in v 34 that made them stop short of murder. Here at last we encounter a wise Pharisee, who was held in high regard, standing up for justice. But the murderous intentions were only hidden away for a bit, and we find in chapter 12 that the apostles were again arrested, and John’s brother, James, was executed.
But in rounding off these readings about persecution I want to mention two further things about it. The first, which is mentioned in v 17 of our reading, gives some idea of the underlying causes of some persecution, though not perhaps all. The Jewish leaders were jealous of the Apostles, ‘The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.‘ They saw their own status and reputations as being undermined in some way. Such jealousy can often lie behind persecution; people feel threatened in some way by our experience or expression of faith. The second thing is to remind you of the promise Jesus makes to you if you are persecuted in some way. Don’t buckle under it, you can rejoice through it and ‘Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven.’