We rejoin Peter, John, the no longer lame man and about 5,000 people in the temple in the court of Solomon. Peter has been sharing the gospel with these people in response to their wonder at the miracle just performed. That miracle opened the door for so many people to hear Jesus’ plan of salvation.
As we note in our reading today, Peter and John’s message was reaching the ears of the religious leaders too. Peter and John had encountered this bunch before with Jesus but today they get their first taste of personal persecution.
Right in the middle of their sharing the guards rush in and arrest them. They went straight to jail. They did not pass go or collect $200. No speedy trial either. They spent the night locked away for “teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (verse 2). Their actions didn’t come in time though as about 5,000 men heard their words first. I wonder how many women and children also heard.
Peter, John and our no longer lame man had so riled the religious leaders that the high priest and all of his priestly family were present for this inquisition. They thought they had gotten rid of Jesus for good but now they were faced with His followers taking up His call AND proclaiming Him risen from the dead! This was too much!
They asked Peter and John the same question they asked Jesus; on whose authority do you do these deeds? “By what power or by what name did you do this?” (verse 7). Oh they really don’t want to know because the already know what Peter and John are going to say. Just like they thought they knew what Jesus was going to say.
This time the Holy Spirit prompts Peter to share the straight up truth. No hinting or questioning back. “Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by Him this man is standing before you well” (verse 10). No mistaking their words here. This healing comes directly from the resurrected Christ! “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (verse 12).
Ok, I have a quick rabbit trail I want to explore here. We are told here that the man who was healed was standing beside Peter and John as they faced the weight of the full council. How did he get there? Was he thrown in prison with them when they were arrested? If he was in jail with them was it his decision or was he arrested too? Did someone go get him for the morning inquisition? Did he spend the night waiting to see what would happen to Peter and John? Was there praise ringing out of the prison that night or filling the streets as he proclaimed what had happened to anyone not present? I can imagine he went on praising for some time, wherever he was at.
Peter’s boldness and the man’s presence put a halt to any punitive action the council wanted to take. This was clearly a miracle of high visibility. There was no way they could discredit it. Everyone in town knew this man as he had been on the temple steps for most of his 40 years. NO WAY could they sweep this one under the rug. So they choose another route. “We will serve them with a gag order. They will not be allowed to even speak the name of that rabble rouser anymore! If they so much as utter a word concerning His ‘rising from the dead’ we will have them arrested on the spot! Call them in and let’s get this settled.”
Surprise! Peter and John don’t go along with the gag order. They will proclaim Jesus’ name and His message of salvation to their dying breath! Even further threats weren’t going to sway them. All the religious leaders can do is spout empty threats. This healing was so public and so miraculous that they would be damned if they took action against anyone over it. Again, THIS is why this man’s healing waited until that day.
Father God, thank You again for Your timing. Thank You also Holy Spirit for Your boldness in the face of opposition. That boldness came from knowing the promise. The promise that NOTHING man can do to this body can have eternal consequences. The promise of eternal life with Jesus means more than anything else. “I tell you my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have nothing they can do” (Luke 12:4). Father God, I pray I never find myself in this situation but if I do, PLEASE help me to stand as Peter and John did. Fill me with Your boldness.
In my everyday life I fail to stand up sometimes. How can I expect to stand when faced with dire consequences when I don’t even stand when faced with simple repercussions; embarrassment or being called names. Forgive me Father for not standing up and standing out. I do try and make my life speak of You but I know I fail in this at times too. Especially when I let my temper get the best of me. I’m sorry Lord for soiling Your witness. Please help me be a better witness for You. Help me be a better example of Your love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.