In this reading from Acts, we join the story after Peter and the other apostles have been arrested a second time for openly proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. They have been brought be fore the High Priest and the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Council.
“33 When they (the Council members) heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. 35 Then he said to them, “Fellow Israelites, consider carefully what you propose to do to these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and disappeared. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up at the time of the census and got people to follow him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!”
They were convinced by him, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. 42 And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.” NRSV
It is quite possible that Peter and the apostles never knew that Gamaliel saved their lives. Or, more accurately stated, that God acted through Gamaliel to save their lives.
We may know some but not all the “Gamaliel’s” in our lives who God uses to protect us, guide us, and intervene for us. They provide us the opportunity to live and love the Jesus way and to tell others about the joy and blessings that come with following him. The Gamaliel’s do not make life pain-free…just grace-aware. Jesus shows us how to see the grace of God through the challenges life brings our way. We must let the grace guide our way. That’s what Peter and the apostles knew to do…just follow grace’s lead. Thanks be to God they did!
Be a blessing to someone today!