Monday, March 6, 2017

(Ananias and) Sapphira

Sometimes we come across stories in the Bible that make us step back a bit. We scratch our heads, and furrow our brows, and try to make sense of things that don't seem to jive with our limited (human) views of things.

This week's lady of the Bible is Sapphira, and hers is one of those stories. We may look at it and think, "Wow, that seems harsh." But when we fully study this passage, we may come closer to understanding what God "was up to" in this situation.

Let's dive in, shall we?

We're going to meet a distinguished cast of characters -- this is during the tumultuous early days of the church, and we'll meet Peter, the leader of the group, and also Barnabas (that was his nickname), and then the husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas(which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heartthat you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord?Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. (Acts 4:32-5:11)

Whooo boy! Dramatic, no?
It almost seems out of place.....this is the kind of "give 'em both barrels" story that we think of being in the Old Testament!
Many people have great difficulty dealing with this, and they argue that it's not true; it's not right; it just couldn't have happened because Jesus was so gentle and kind, and this couldn't have happened in the early church.

I believe, though, that this story lets us know that in spite of the explosion of growth in the early church, they had moments of weakness and sin. It also lets us know that there are two kinds of people in the church, and that it's hard for us to tell them apart -- but not so hard for the Spirit of God.

I hope I haven't scared you away by now....if you're still reading, join us next time for our study of Sapphira!

1 comment:

Katie Isabella said...

I remember this now that I read it here. I will be here to see what may be learned. xx