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From Trials to Triumph

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    Chapter 11—The Gospel Reaches Samaria and Ethiopia

    This chapter is based on Acts 8.

    After the death of Stephen there arose against the believers in Jerusalem a relentless persecution. “They were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.” Saul “laid waste the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” RSV. Of this cruel work he said at a later day: “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth... . I not only shut up many of the saints in prison, ... I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme.” “When they were put to death I cast my vote against them.” Acts 26:9-11, RSV.TT 55.1

    At this time of peril Nicodemus came forward in fearless avowal of his faith in the Saviour. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin. As he had witnessed Christ's wonderful works, the conviction had fastened on his mind that this was the Sent of God. Too proud to acknowledge openly his sympathy with the Galilean Teacher, he had sought a secret interview. Jesus unfolded to him His mission to the world, yet still Nicodemus had hesitated. For three years there was little apparent fruit. But in the Sanhedrin council he had repeatedly thwarted schemes to destroy Christ. When at last Christ had been lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the words spoken to him in the night interview. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” (John 3:14); and he saw in Jesus the world's Redeemer.TT 55.2

    With Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus had borne the expense of the burial of Jesus. The disciples had been afraid to show themselves openly as Christ's followers, but Nicodemus and Joseph, rich and honored men, had come boldly to do for their dead Master what it would have been impossible for the poor disciples to do. Their wealth and influence had protected them, in a great measure, from the malice of the priests and rulers.TT 56.1

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