justice & mercy

But a man named Ananias—his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him—sold a piece of land, secretly kept part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it.

Peter said, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn’t lie to men but to God.”

Ananias, when he heard those words, fell down dead. That put the fear of God into everyone who heard of it. The younger men went right to work and wrapped him up, then carried him out and buried him.

Not more than three hours later, his wife, knowing nothing of what had happened, came in.

Peter said, “Tell me, were you given this price for your field?” “Yes,” she said, “that price.”

Peter responded, “What’s going on here that you connived to conspire against the Spirit of the Master? The men who buried your husband are at the door, and you’re next.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than she also fell down, dead. When the young men returned they found her body. They carried her out and buried her beside her husband.

By this time the whole church and, in fact, everyone who heard of these things had a healthy respect for God. They knew God was not to be trifled with.  (Acts 5:1–11)

Questions fill my heart:

  1. Why did A&S fall down dead? Shock at being discovered? Or, more directly, did the Holy Spirit take their lives?
  2. Would Jesus call them his own?
  3. Was this execution punishment for their lying and deception? Discipline of a terminal nature?
  4. Why wasn't every sin in the church dealt with in such summary manner?
  5. What happened to mercy? Did justice and wrath prevail?
  6. Were A&S's sin settled completely and comprehensively on the cross? If so, what justifies this execution?
  7. How do we read Romans 8:1 with this story as backdrop? Galatians 6:1-2?
  8. How do mercy and justice work, this side of the cross?
  9. Is the gift of mercy simply to be hoped for, but not expected, in every failure?
  10. What light does this throw on Jesus?