In Isolation Thoughts 2

Sunday 21st June 2020

Music: YouTube- Thine be the glory- Songs of Praise recording

Bible Reading; Acts 4 1-22

CONSEQUENCES

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been looking at the situation of a lame man who was healed by the power of God. The healing was followed by Peter taking the opportunity to tell the crowds on the Temple Road the reason for this healing. It was not of man but of God. We see in our reading today that the incident still caused further reaction, this time from the Jewish Authorities. One outcome was that the religious leaders had been listening to the message, sadly, they were not pleased with the message and by implication the healing. Again, this was a tinder-box situation. Pilate had given in to the Jews to avoid any possibility of an uprising and disturbance, so here we see they are very cautious, as the people were happy at the man’s healing and any over-reaction might lead to a disturbance. At the same time we need to remember that the Romans were still providing the ‘police’ of the day and would not be very pleased if there were crowd problems.

Basis for Concern

What was their problem? Initially it did not involve the healed man, it concerned the message that Peter was preaching. It centred on the resurrection of the dead and Peter’s assertion of the relationship with Jesus. They would have had no problem with the resurrection, in principle, as this was clearly part of the Jewish faith. It was taught by the mainstream Jewish teachers because it was in the OT. Remember, the Pharisees and Sadducees in the gospels were in dispute over this doctrine but the Pharisees were the main religious group at that time. The issue was linking the doctrine with Jesus. They had managed to get rid of Him, they had conspired with the Roman authorities to cover up any suggestion that He was alive. The last thing they wanted was more disturbance about Him from the group of ignorant, unlearned followers of this Rabbi, who as far as they were concerned, was dead! There was no time to deal with the matter, it was evening, so they held Peter & John in custody overnight. Note the little footnote in v4, the message had an impact and the believers had grown in number to about 5000. Was evening an excuse to allow the situation to calm down?  Did they want to diffuse the situation, let everyone go home. They could then deal with it in private the next day.

Before the Council

Peter & John were brought to the Council the next day, note it would seem to be a very full meeting, packed with those who would follow the strict line laid down by the Chief Priest. They also had time overnight to consider their tactics and line of questioning. They asked about their power and actions, not the resurrection of Jesus. Peter answered them, he was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, we see again how he used the occasion to preach the gospel. That wasn’t what the Council wanted!

  • His first comment was to deflect the religious teaching and ask about a deed of kindness to a lame man. They all would have sympathy with this action. How could they denounce a healing, so if Peter waited, what would their answer be? There is no suggestion of any reply, were they in a quandary? If they replied, any answer would be controversial. It seems they allowed Peter to continue.
  • Peter gets right to the crux of the matter, the power that healed this lame man, who is a witness to his changed circumstance. There is no doubt in this as all could see him and cannot dispute the event.
  • The power was given in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. We are witnessing to you and all the nation of this fact. Also bear in mind the following facts, as well;
    • You crucified Jesus
    • God raised Him from the dead
    • The man is a living witness to this power
  • To support my assertion, look at the Psalm, where He is described as a rejected stone, made a corner stone to hold the whole building in place.
  • Jesus is the Messiah or the Christ and there is no other name in existence. No other person who can offer salvation, only in Jesus is this found!

The council seemed unwilling to debate this any further, perhaps for two reasons, one, these were unschooled ordinary men, were they worthy of their attention and time? They were very bold and not overawed by the Council, two, they had been with Jesus and further discussion might give them a platform to proclaim more about Him and that was the last thing they wanted. They also had the man, as a living proof that something had happened. They had an adjournment; they withdrew to debate the situation. It would seem they were at a loss as to what to do or say.

  • The healing was public knowledge, we cannot dispute that fact. To do so would make them look very foolish in the public eye.
  • The message must be stopped, there is a danger if we allow this idea to spread that Jesus is important and powerful, He is dead, so that’s it!
  • The only conclusion they had was to ban them from speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus.

Be Silent, by Command

  • With the matter solved, they recalled Peter & John and gave them the verdict. They were not to preach and teach about Jesus! Matter closed! They had ignored one important fact, they forgot that Peter had been very bold and openly proclaimed Jesus. they also didn’t know that Peter was speaking with the power of the Holy Spirit. Were these two going to meekly submit to the instruction? No way! Peter has a response which challenges their verdict.
  • He poses a question, who should we obey? God or you?
  • You tell us, he put them in a dilemma again, what could they say? Either way would cause them difficulty.
  • Peter helps them, we have to say what we have seen and heard. We are simply witnesses giving evidence in all that we are saying. Just as the healed lame man was a witness to a change in his life, from a lame beggar at the roadside to a walking, leaping, God praising man, Peter & John had to say what they had witnessed.

This was too much for the Council, they could do nothing. They couldn’t punish them because the people were praising God for the miracle, so any action might turn the people against them. They gave up, they reiterated their instruction to desist from speaking about Jesus, knowing full well this would not be obeyed, they had to let them go. A little footnote to the whole story, is in v22, we began with a man lame from birth, now we find that he was over 40 years old. He was obviously well known to the regular Temple worshippers, so he could not be dismissed as irrelevant. This was an essential consideration for them in this situation.

In applying the principle of this event to our lives, the questions we need to consider are:

  • If we are challenged about our witnessing, what would be the basis for any complaint? Could we be questioned about our faith and its publicity?
  • If we had to stand up for our faith, would we be bold and fully dependant on God’s power through the Holy Spirit?
  • Whose instruction do we follow when there is a conflict of interest? God or man?

The commission given to the Disciples by Jesus, just before His ascension, is just as true and powerful today. We are His witnesses in the world, the whole world. A challenge! Would we be found guilty of failing to witness for Him?

Music: YouTube- 10,000 Reasons – by Matt Redman


Page last updated: 20th June 2020 6:58 PM
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