Concerning “This Life”
So it came to pass that on one occasion when the apostles were teaching the people, which had then grown to multitudes, and were performing signs and wonders, which further proved their word concerning the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, that the Sadducees, filled with jealousy, had them arrested and imprisoned. But we read that during the night an angel arrived uninvited, unannounced, and unbeknownst to the guards and released them from their confinement. Then the angel gave them very specific instructions: “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” And at daybreak, the apostles did just that.
We read passages like this without reflecting on the courage of the apostles. They knew very well what the council was capable of, for they had witnessed their Lord’s crucifixion. Going right back to the temple after just having been arrested there the day before, having now escaped from prison and being thereby fugitives, and on top of all this, teaching the people in the temple which was the very activity they were engaged in at the time of arrest, … well, one might question the wisdom of returning! But that’s what God said, and so that’s what they did. It certainly seems that the apostles possessed a boldness and courage that is, quite frankly, stunning; we have just grown far too accustomed to reading of it.
And how could they have such courage, such boldness? Well, we would certainly credit the Holy Spirit’s presence within them. But I would like to highlight again what the angel commanded: “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” Did you hear that? “All the words of this Life.” And I like the way the ESV capitalizes “Life.” And to what does “this Life” refer? Eternal life, abundant life, new life, godly life, Spirit-filled life. Regeneration is all about receiving this kind of “Life.” Indeed, the Christian life is the only true life, for the Christian knows the truth which has set him free; that is, freedom from the guilt of sin and freedom the power of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Or to say it another way, only the Christian truly has life within because he has been made a partaker of Christ’s resurrection, presently. Everyone else is living a false life, for God has made us for Himself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Him (Augustine, Confessions 1). And because the apostles were partakers of “this Life,” the things of this world seemed hollow and even unreal compared to the real glory beyond. So yes, the apostles were brave and bold, because they had Life within. And so do we.