Acts 4 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit continues on a roll of courageous preaching that has spectacular results! 5000 now believing in Jesus! Good thing he waited for the Holy Spirit just as Jesus instructed, “Wait for the Holy Spirit and then you will be able to do these things.” I think the same applies today regarding the beginning of ministries, churches and even speaking truth or exhortations in love, “Wait on the Holy Spirit and then you will be able to do these things.”
But now for some consequences; The Temple police and Sadducees have Peter and John arrested, “Indignant that these upstart apostles were instructing the people and proclaiming that the resurrection from the dead had taken place in Jesus.” (The Message). Why were they indignant? Two reasons: 1. In a sentence, it was their job to instruct the people, “The religious responsibilities of the Sadducees included the maintenance of the Temple in Jerusalem. Their high social status was reinforced by their priestly responsibilities, as mandated in the Torah. The Priests were responsible for performing sacrifices at the Temple, the primary method of worship in Ancient Israel. This also included presiding over sacrifices on the three festivals of pilgrimage to Jerusalem.” (Wikipedia on Sadducees). 2. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection. That is why they were sad…you see? J
Just one more reason Jesus was offensive to the religious establishment, and still is, I think. He upset the order of society/religion by making the proclamation of the Gospel a free for all. Anyone filled with the Holy Spirit could proclaim it and teach it. As the Wiki article on Sadducees says, “Their religious beliefs and social status were mutually reinforcing, as the Priesthood often represented the highest class in Judean society.” In other words, they had a lot to lose is they allowed “these upstart apostles” to continue preaching and teaching. How sad that they didn’t realize the fulfillment of the Scriptures that Jesus represented; that history was made in their midst. Concerned with preservation of the status quo, they decided instead to persecute the messianic rabble rousers followers.
Chapter 4 is so full of memorable statements. Peter and John’s umbrage about being questioned for healing a crippled man, “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross!” “Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.” I’m getting chills as I type.
“They couldn’t take their eyes off them-Peter and John standing there so confident, so sure of themselves! Their fascination deepened when they realized these two were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education….then there was this man undeniably crippled all these years, and there he was, standing upright – so healed! – what could they say against that?” ummm. More chills. I think I get excited cause I want to take walks to the temple and to give the gifts of God…the things that people need and that will cause them to celebrate with exuberant joy…One of my favorite childhood Sunday School songs was about how this healed man went leaping and dancing and praising God. The visual Bible, Acts also portrays the scene of him dancing up the steps of the Temple and it provokes joyful laughter.
I love the fact that Peter and John had the religious leaders over a barrel. Intimidation and threats weren’t effective with them. They were bent on telling as many as possible about Jesus so that they might find salvation in Him, and whether jailed, beaten, killed, they were going to preach and teach, “Judge for yourselves whether it would be right for us to listen to you instead of God. As for us, we can’t keep quiet about what we’ve seen and heard.”
Peter’s courage was no doubt fueled by Jesus’s mercy on him after his many mistakes; trying to take the head off the high priest’s servant and denying Jesus. It’s easy to imagine the conversation in his head, “No way, I’m not making the same mistake a second time. It’s all too fresh that I lied to save myself. But now, after watching Jesus give himself up for us, and very specifically giving me a second chance I’m not going to blow it…even if it costs me my life." And eventually it would.
Reflections about a Dying? Pastor
4 years ago