A Look at a Hard Heart

In Acts 5, the priests in Jerusalem had the disciples arrested for preaching Jesus. But something interesting happened over night while the disciples were in their cells. And this shows us much of the truth of the unconverted human heart.

Acts 5:19-28- 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.

Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

Grab the facts quickly. The disciples were supernaturally taken from the jail. How amazing was this? The guards did not notice that all the disciples had walked out of their cells.

Remember that the Jewish religious leaders were not anti-supernaturalists. They believed in miracles. They taught others the great moves of God from the past. They knew about the exodus from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna, and all the rest. So we are not dealing here with people who did not, at least in general, understand that God might move in a situation.

The priests send the guards to bring out the disciples for trial. But the jail is empty. The guards have no idea what happened. All is locked up tight. Then they find out that the arrested men are in the courts of the temple preaching Jesus.

What should these men have done? They should have at least asked the disciples how they got out. They should have at least investigated to see what supernatural thing might have been going on. They should have let this move of God make them a little hesitant to continue on the same path they started down the day before.

But what do they do? They call the disciples in, and they pick up their questioning right where they left off. “We told you to stop talking about Jesus.” They flat ignored a miracle from God. Why? The working of God did not fit the world they wanted to live in. So, they just pretended it did not happen, and they went forward with their questioning. Later, even though they know they have no leg to stand on, they beat the disciples and demand that they stop preaching—a demand with which the disciples cannot comply.

But the thing that grabs my attention is the clear picture of a human hard heart. The priests had evidence of the moving of God. They had a reason to slow down. They had a reason to listen to Peter and the others. But they would not. It is as if they closed their eyes, plugged their ears, and cried out, “La la la la, I can’t hear you!”

The human heart, if not moved by God, is stone dead to the truth of the gospel. Realize that. Let it make you pray for the regeneration of those you want to see saved. And let it make you thank God if you are saved. Thank God for acting on your heart, because, without his supernatural working in your soul, you would be just like those men who ignored the evidence so as to ignore Jesus.