This morning in our series ‘The Miraculous & The Mundane’, we looked at a miracle in Acts 5 which we prefer not to think about or even acknowledge. In this chapter, we see God’s judgment on two believers (Ananias and Sapphira) and how the hypocrisy and deceit of this couple led to their unexpected and sudden deaths. We prefer not to think about the judgment of God or we reduce this to something that only happened in the Old Testament, but the Bible urges us to accept the whole revelation of God and we must, therefore, wrestle with passages which upset and offend us in order to be sure we are worshipping the God who is rather than the God of our imagination.
At the end of Acts 4, we see a picture of the unity of the church, with believers (e.g. Barnabas) selling possessions and property and pooling the money from these transactions to help the church overall. There was no compulsion to do this, but the love of Christ overflowed into generous living. Ananias and Sapphira, however, sold a piece of land and kept back part of the price for this. God revealed this deceit to Peter through a word of knowledge and Peter condemned Ananias for lying to the Spirit of God and then condemned Sapphira for testing God’s Spirit. The result was both people died instantly.
The facts of the story are easy enough to understand: a supernatural word of knowledge exposing sin and hypocrisy in this couple and God’s power striking down the couple as He had done with Korah, Dathan and Abiram who rebelled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. (Numbers 16) What is harder for us to understand is why God chose to act in this way (and why He doesn’t act like this always!) It seems that we must learn to view sin the way God views it. The holiness and authority of God are very much in evidence in this story, and we see also how the authority of the apostles is reinforced so that, as one commentator puts it, ‘God laid the bodies of Ananias and Sapphira in the path of every hypocrite who would seek to enter the church.’  The result of this miracle was a fear and awe of God (Acts 5:5, 11) which helped the church to see that God is not to be trifled with.
Miracles are not simply entertainment for a bored people, ‘clickbaits’ to lure us to God, ‘enticements’ to persuade us that God might be worth looking at. They are evidence of who God is and how God works. This miracle shows us God in awesome power, absolute purity and unconditional holiness. God gave His all for us; now, in the words of the hymn, ‘love so amazing, so divine/ demands my soul, my life, my all.’ (‘When I Survey The Wondrous Cross’, Isaac Watts)