GodReflection: Walk Toward the Quake
My last post closed with Peter and John in jail after a demonstration of Jesus’ resurrected power. They healed a man whose life wasn’t supported by his legs nor the power of Jesus. But what led to their arrest was what followed the healing.
When Temple attendees saw what happened they crowded together in joint curiosity. Peter began to tell of the power of the risen Jesus to heal. The first few onlookers grew to thousands within the temple court.
His message caused two thousand people to join with the three thousand from Pentecost; all gave allegiance to the ascended Jesus. At this rate the numbers would soon be out of control. What most concerned religious leaders was their positions of authority, influence and wealth were at risk.
As with Jesus, something had to be done. With Peter and John secure in jail they must move quickly to devise a plan to stop this new movement.
I can only imagine the meetings that must have taken place among the top temple leaders that night. Their future was at stake. At least five thousand men had already decided to follow Jesus. This is getting out of hand.
By morning the rulers, the elders, the teachers of the law, Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, and others of the high priest’s family assembled to interview Peter and John.
They had one question: “By what power or what name did you do this?” Their question betrayed self-interest. They were in charge. They were the leaders. They were the go between to consult God. What right do Peter, John or even this Jesus have to speak for God?
Luke records Peter’s defense in a few short lines:
If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. . . Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:9-12).
The Holy Spirit made his case. He was the advocate for Peter and John just as Jesus promised. The high court of religious leaders were at a loss. They could not solve—only warn.
But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. . . “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it
. . .they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.
With courage direct from the Spirit Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Upon their release Luke tells us they went directly to their own people. I can’t help but wonder if their own people were the hundred and twenty believers who met together on the day of Pentecost.
Their own people were gathered in a house. After Peter and John told what happened the natural response of the group was to pray. Together they praised God. They rehearsed how He had been faithful through the ages.
They knew there would be other jails and encounters with ruling bodies determined to keep the status quo. They ended their prayer with this appeal:
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Once again, the time has arrived for a confirmation from God. Not only has the Lord heard their prayer, He send an immediate affirmative answer.
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly (Acts 4:31).
Here is what strikes me. Over the past two thousand years the Holy Spirit continues to pass on God’s affirmation. Because Jesus disciples have spoken of him boldly across the centuries, I too was given the opportunity to believe.
Can I still feel the house shake? Do I have the confidence in God’s affirming answer to also be a bold speaker? Where are you on this one? Maybe we should open our mouth and our heart more often, don’t you think?
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: Prayer Answered—House Shakes