SOCIAL DISTANCING, SANHEDRIN-STYLE

Imagine for a moment that you were in Wuhan, China, on the very day that COVID-19 migrated into the first person and began its invisible attack on the human race. What would you have seen exactly? Not much. Perhaps you would have seen someone bent over a cooking fire to prepare an evening meal, just […]

Imagine for a moment that you were in Wuhan, China, on the very day that COVID-19 migrated into the first person and began its invisible attack on the human race. What would you have seen exactly? Not much. Perhaps you would have seen someone bent over a cooking fire to prepare an evening meal, just like hundreds of others on the busy streets.

The truth is, you could have been looking directly at the scene, (maybe even have taken a “tourist” picture of it on your phone!) and you would still never have known that something was taking place that would shift the trajectory of all of humanity. These things have invisibly small beginnings.

There was an outbreak in Jerusalem in about 30 A.D.

It started small, as these things do, and (like all pandemics) you could have walked down THAT street and passed the event without ever knowing that you were looking at something that was about to change the world.

It so happens that a physician captured the scene for us to examine, and we have the Lord to thank for that!

Here’s how it happened: Two men were walking up toward the Temple for the daily prayer time that was held there at 3 o’clock. At just that moment, a man in his 40s was being carried and placed at the Temple entrance. Emaciated like most beggars and pitiful with stick-thin legs, he was a regular sight at the Temple entrance. He had been begging his entire life because he was “born lame.”

A conversation happened between the two men and the lame man, a Name was spoken aloud, and the two of them walking into the prayer service became three.

Look carefully at the knot of men gathered there in the Temple courtyard craning to get a look at the beggar they had known all their lives. Can you see them? There is something in their eyes that has never been there before! In that instant a virus was passed between them that has never been extinguished from the race of mankind!

That virus was the realization that ordinary people could be filled with the Spirit of God in such a remarkable way that the limitations of human ability could be set aside. “If two ordinary fishermen could ‘catch’ that astonishing power from that carpenter that they had followed,” thought the outsiders, “then maybe any of us could have God appear among us, live within us, work through us!”

That thought created an overwhelming hunger in those it infected — a hunger for God. It created an overwhelming hope — to be reunited with the God who made them, to begin to live a life that transcended the dreary exile in which they were raised!

Something was unleashed on the human race that day. The physician who recorded it for us made clear that he understood that. He recounted how the body threw up its defenses. Immediately the virus was captured. Analyzed. Its weaknesses probed.

The experts reported back to their masters. “It has something to do with that Name they spoke. Some power was released that will be the death of our religious domination over people if we don’t act quickly.”

And the physician who recounted all of this for us used a medical term as he described that conversation. The Expositor’s Greek Testament explains that. The Sanhedrin were trying to figure out how to stem the tide of this “Jesus thing” that was spiraling out of control. In a closed-door meeting, they came to the conclusion that there was something about that Name (Jesus) that was causing them all their trouble, and so they said,

“…To keep this thing from spreading any further among the people, let us sternly warn them not to speak again to anyone in this Name” (Acts 4:17).

Dr. Hobard, in his book The Medical Language of St. Luke, tells us that this word “SPREADING” (dianemo, in Greek) was a medical word that Greeks used to refer to a contagion or an epidemic. Only Dr. Luke used this word in the New Testament.

The Sanhedrin were trying to stem the tide of what they correctly were seeing as the beginning of an epidemic. They had killed Jesus in order to stop the spread of His message, but now it had apparently spread to ordinary men and women — accompanied by the same power they had seen in Jesus Himself!

Of course, they had no way of knowing that there would be NO stopping this spread. What they saw as a nasty epidemic of dangerous proportions was in reality the beautiful spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout all the subsequent centuries, reaching to every people, language, and nation.

As we face the smaller and milder coronavirus pandemic, it is encouraging to know that GOD has released His OWN viral gift to the human race. It is a pathway into holiness and power — a gateway into a relationship with the omnipotent God Himself, forged through the blood of Jesus on the cross.

And what a relationship it is!

It is an unending relationship. “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” It is a relationship with the eternal King! “Of His Kingdom there shall be no end.” It is an incorruptible relationship!  “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.”

There is coming a day when the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever! Whether we are ushered into His presence through COVID-19, through an automobile accident, or through old age, we who know Jesus as our Savior will spend eternity with Him in a place made perfect by His presence!

Praise God right now for this incredible gift!