Acts 4 begins with the Sadducees being very irritated with the apostles because of the healing of a man who had been lame since birth. The healing was the tip of the iceberg for the Sadducees because what really irritated them was that the Apostles were proclaiming “in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”
This was a theological issue for the Sadducees because they denied that there was a resurrection for anyone. And now there was this pesky healing to deal with and already 5000 men alone had heard the word of Jesus and believed.
So the high priest, Annas, and Caiaphas and all the priestly family brought in the apostles to interrogate them and to intimidate them into silence. They demand to know “By what power or by what name did you do this?”
Peter is not silent and being filled with the Spirit responds:
“Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 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.”
Bold words. True words. No shrinking back before the magistrates. And he is not done.
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.
And there is salvation in NO ONE else, for there is NO other name under heaven given among by which we MUST be saved.”
This is not just Peter exercising his right to “freedom of speech.” He is compelled to declare boldly to the religious leaders and the people and now to us the naked truth that all of us stand together as GUILTY and if we would me saved there is one and only one way – through Jesus Christ.
That is as true today as it was then. Let the boldness of Peter – who just weeks earlier had denied Christ to a servant girl – Let it speak the truth of His words to your soul today.
You cannot save yourself – But the one named Resurrection and Life can!
The leaders are astonished at the boldness of Peter and John doubly so because they saw they were ordinary men without formal education. They further recognized they had been with Jesus. So believers reading this post – you don’t need a MDiv to effectively serve your king. And not just as a janitor. Spend time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer and with His body and boldly declare His Worth to those around you. This is not to disparage (necessarily) seminary training, but you could graduate from seminary knowing a lot of things but not have been with Jesus. And you could not have gone to formal training but have spent time with Jesus – and He can use you for His purposes – even to teach!
Apparently the man healed has joined Peter and John in the courtroom. “You honor, I present exhibit A.” This is hilarious irony to me. The now un-lame man standing next to the apostles so stifles what the Sadducees would like to say – that they cannot say anything in opposition to “uneducated” Peter at all!
So they go to private session and decide that given the incontrovertible fact that a great sign has been performed they need to cut their losses and just tell the apostles to knock it off in the future. No more talking about this Jesus fellow. With this CYA plan in place they go and tell Peter and John.
“Ok guys – fine the guy was healed – but we know better than you about religious things – so no more talking about this Jesus or doing any more healings like this. We will let this one go but don’t teach about Jesus anymore!”
Peter and John are not done being bold.
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
What an incredible response! If you think it best to deny what God has clearly done here – that is on you – but as for us we MUST declare what we have seen and heard.
They are released after a few more threats and are greeted by their friends who are overwhelmed and they lift their voices together and say:
“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
They quote Psalm 2 – rejoicing that the reality of those words written by David long ago – have come to life before their eyes. Here the apostles very lives were in danger. They had no power of their own to resist. Yet the King of Kings rules over earthly kings and leaders and these powerful rulers are unmatched to thwart His reign.
They continue with this astonishing confession declaring the sovereignty of God over all things – they delight in declaring …
“For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever YOUR hand and YOUR plan had predestined to take place.”
Oh Lord may we your people in 2021 be so bold to speak of your salvation. Draw us to you that those around may see – they have been with Jesus and be drawn to you as well. And Lord help us not to set our hopes on American government and the restoration of the “way things ought to be.” But let us instead believe and declare that though the “Kings of this world set themselves” You rule and reign over every king or president or ruler! You are the Sovereign one – the King of Kings. Lord drive that truth from our words to our lives so that we may learn to speak with bold truth and confident faith about Your great salvation.
For there is salvation in NO ONE else, for there is NO other name under heaven given among by which we MUST be saved.