So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. (Acts 5:39b-42)
This little passage has a couple of things which strike us (pardon the pun!). The disciples were beaten and counted themselves blessed to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus. That alone might give every one of us pause for consideration of this preaching task. Are we blessed because we are not beaten or does that mean in another reckoning, we are not worthy of such a blessing? Would I be willing to say that a beating from the Sanhedrin is a blessing?
But equally striking for me is the content of their preaching. Not that Jesus was the Christ, but that the Christ is Jesus. Do you see the subtle differences there? For their Jewish people there was a Christ – they all agreed on that. There was a messiah, one who was anointed and promised from of old, a seed of Adam and Eve who would break Satan’s power, a son of David who would rule over all the world. They knew it. The preaching of Peter and the rest of those first preachers was that Jesus is that Christ.
How different it is for us. Our culture is fragmented and fractured. We do not look for one to save. If someone does we are quick to remind them that only children think Superman is real. We must first preach there is Christ, one anointed and purposed to save. We must proclaim that salvation is a thing, that heaven exists, and that we could actually live in its blessing. Then we can say that Jesus is the key, the door, the way, the truth, and the life. He still is the Christ.
We still proclaim that the Christ is Jesus. The answer to the sorrows and ills of this world, the guilt and the shame, the death and the loneliness, all the garbage of sin, the answer is still and will always be that Galilean carpenter hanging on a cross, rising from a tomb, and ruling in heavenly glory.