Readings: Acts 5:27-33; Psalm 34; John 3:31-36
The readings speak of a complete identification between Jesus and his disciples -
- Jesus is from above, they, through faith in him, have been born from above. The same word is used today of Jesus being 'from above' as was used earlier in John 3 to talk about Nicodemus being born 'from above';
- As the one who comes from heaven Jesus speaks with authority and the apostles too speak with authority because they speak in his name and in the power of his Spirit sent from heaven;
- Jesus provoked outrage by his preaching and they provoke outrage by preaching in his name.
So the disciples teach now with the authority of Christ, the one who has come from above. They do it because they have been born 'from above' through faith and baptism. But they experience also the rejection and strong reactions that Jesus experienced. They are, in a quite literal sense, following Him. This is an important theme in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, coming to a climax with the death of Stephen, the first disciple to die for His sake.
Many times Jesus had warned them about this turn of events: the disciple is not greater than his Master; if they listen to me they will listen to you; if they refuse to listen to me they will refuse to listen to you. And it has continued like this, of course, wherever the gospel has been truly preached.
So they 'filled Jerusalem with their teaching', which is a lovely phrase. Not physically, surely with the frequency or volume of their preaching but in another sense, that the Word of God whom they preach is the fulness of truth. The message they bear fills the city, and the earth, and the heavens. Jesus is the Eternal Wisdom of the Father who fills human hearts, brings our lives to perfection, and draws all things to Himself.
We are called to follow him and to be his witnesses in the world. We are to fill our place with this teaching, not because we are great and loud and influential but because the Word we bear is great and all fulfilling. He is the Word who created all things and who became flesh to bring mercy to humanity.