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Rabbi Gamaliel: “If this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. “

28 May 2011

“But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40and 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. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

– a reading from the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 5, verses 34- 42 (English Standard Version)



We will soon be moving on from the season of Easter, in terms of the liturgical calendar. But it is important to remember that without Easter, Christianity would not exist. If Jesus had not resurrected on Easter Day, then we might never have heard of him. It is likely that he would have simply faded from memory like so many other good and godly people have in the past. If he had not been resurrected there certainly wouldn’t be so many millions of people contemplating his meaning for them today. This certainly was the view of the great Rabbi Gamaliel when he told the Men of Israel that if God wasn’t behind the followers of Christ then it would die out on it‘s own, like so many other religious and political movements had before.
If Jesus had only died on the cross and then nothing happened after that, then we would not remember the day on which he died as Good Friday, because his death by execution would simply have been a disastrous end to what was a beautiful life. For Jesus to be crucified would have been just a terrible miscarriage of justice. If that is how things had ended, then the death of Jesus of Nazareth would have been one more example of humanity’s inability to live side by side with truth and goodness. Perhaps at most we would remember Jesus the way that we remember the death of the philosopher Socrates.
But we don’t remember Jesus the same way that we remember Socrates. And we call the day of his crucifixion Good Friday because of the importance of Easter. It basically says that the resurrection was God’s approval of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. If it were not for the resurrection, the crucifixion would be nothing more than a reminder of human cruelty and injustice. The crucifixion and resurrection challenge us to put our faith in the belief that his blood was shed to free us from our bondage to sin.

The Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians chapter 15, verses 3-6, & 17-20.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.”

. . .

If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died”.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 27 February 2023 11:00 am

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it won’t disappoint me just as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I truly thought you would probably have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could possibly fix if you weren’t too busy looking for attention.

    • 27 February 2023 8:54 pm

      Curious comment. You apparently haven’t actually read the post above. It includes neither whining nor attention seeking.

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