But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. – Acts 5:1-11
It is good and pleasant when brothers live together in unity (Psalm 133:1). I once went on a quest to explain the “good and pleasant” nature of unity. I looked for things that were both good and pleasant. I decide on food. Bacon cheeseburgers: pleasant. Kale: good. Ice Cream sundaes: pleasant. Broccoli: good. You might quarrel with my conclusion, but on a list of foods that are both good and pleasant: watermelon. That’s from the source of all true knowledge: the internet! Ever since then I’ve called Psalm 133 the watermelon psalm.
We have here in this encounter with Ananias and Sapphira the opposite of good and pleasant. Their duplicity was not good. Their end was not pleasant. The judgement was swift and brutal. They both died for their duplicity.
One reason for this might be the close association between “lying to the Holy Spirit” and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – the unforgivable sin. This may be what is going on here. But I sense more is at play.
These are the earliest days of the church. This is the first deliberate attempt to deceive the leaders of the church. This had to be dealt with summarily. Action had to be taken.
There is also another layer. Jesus prayed – as recorded in John 17 – that the disciples would be one, perfectly united, one with each other and one with Jesus and the Father (cf. John 17:11, 20-21). Jesus prayed for unity so that the world would know that he was truly God’s Son and our Savior. The church’s mission was at stake.
Perhaps you don’t like watermelon. But certainly you must agree that being united together with brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus is good and pleasant. That is possible when we acknowledge and confess our sins, and believe the Good News of Jesus’ redeeming love and gift of eternal salvation.