Wednesday, February 6
4:5The next day, their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem 6with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander, and all the members of the high-priestly family. 7After they had Peter and John stand before them, they asked the question: "By what power or in what name have you done this?"
8Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders: 9If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man-- by what means he was healed-- 10let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene-- whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead-- by Him this man is standing here before you healthy. 11This Jesus is
the stone rejected by you builders,
which has become the cornerstone.
12There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it."
13When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in response. 15After they had ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, 16saying, "What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign, evident to all who live in Jerusalem, has been done through them, and we cannot deny it! 17However, so this does not spread any further among the people, let's threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again." 18So they called for them and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
19But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it's right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; 20for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard."
21After threatening them further, they released them. They found no way to punish them, because the people were all giving glory to God over what had been done; 22for this sign of healing had been performed on a man over 40 years old.
23After they were released, they went to their own people and reported everything the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24When they heard this, they all raised their voices to God and said, "Master, You are the One who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and everything in them. 25You said through the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David Your servant:
Why did the Gentiles rage
and the peoples plot futile things?
26The kings of the earth took their stand
and the rulers assembled together
against the Lord and against His Messiah.
27"For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, 28to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. 29And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your message with complete boldness, 30while You stretch out Your hand for healing, signs, and wonders to be performed through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." 31When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly.
(Act 4:5-31 CSB)
A gathering of the rulers, elders, scribes, and high priest.
The question: by what authority?
As we studied yesterday, for Jews there is only one right answer to the authority question: Yahweh. Only he the power and authority to heal. We’ve heard this question before, though. Luke has written this scene before. The Ruling Council asked Jesus the same question at His trial. Jesus’ response? I am. Or, as they correctly heard it….I AM. The meaning of God’s name, Yahweh: I AM.
Luke intentionally draws parallels between Jesus before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish religious leaders) and Peter and John before the same group. In fact, Luke will allude back to his earlier work several times throughout Acts, emphasizing that the life of a follower of Jesus Christ will imitate the life of Jesus—His character, His actions, and even His sufferings.
In repainting this particular scene, though, Luke makes an additional point. While Jesus pronounced His own position and power, Peter and John proclaim Jesus’ power. They claim no authority of their own. They claim only the “the name of Jesus Christ.” I’m sure the Sanhedrin were having a bit of déjà vu themselves. They’d had that man killed months ago. Couldn’t he stay dead?! Apparently not. Reports of a man rising from the dead could easily be dismissed, though, except for the bothersome problem of proof in the form of a well-known lame man leaping around the Temple court.
And there was more proof. Peter and John themselves. These men were bold and well-spoken, attracting a lot of attention, but they were really backwoods Galilean fishermen. The Jewish leaders “were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.” It is easy to assume that Luke’s point here is that being with Jesus transforms ordinary unskilled people, but Luke’s allusion to Luke 22 suggests a different point. In Luke 22, before Jesus’ trial, Luke also told a story about Peter.
Peter is recognized. He is recognized as a Galilean. As one who had been with Jesus.
And Peter denies it. He denies it three times. He denies it with curses.
Three months later, they recognize him again. They would have loved if, once again, Peter denied it all and ran off. But not anymore. Being with Jesus hadn’t transformed Peter, but witnessing the resurrection and being filled with the Spirit had.
The Spirit has transformed Peter so much that, when he is released, he gathers with the believers and prays, Lord, consider their threats, and grant your servants. . .all boldness. God answers that prayer, and the priests have a problem.
We can spend a lot of time with Jesus and never be transformed by the power of the Spirit. Let’s be honest—when faced with uncomfortable situations because of our faith, do we pray for boldness? Or do we pray for protection? Are we people who spend time with Jesus but flee when difficulties arise, or are we people filled with the Spirit who pray for more power and head right back out there?
Lord Jesus, I confess that I would prefer the easy way. The comfortable way. The non-confrontational-yet-highly-effective way. That is not Your way, though. You warned that Your followers would encounter opposition, persecutions and sufferings. But you also promised power, so fill me with Your Spirit’s power and grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand for healing, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. Amen.
Pick Four More Activities
Listen and Worship.
Pray a Psalm.
Read a Book.
Retell the Gospel to Yourself.
Take Some Notes on Today's Devotional.
Pray for Yourself, Your Family, Your Church, and the Lost.
Memorize a Verse.
List Five Things You're Thankful For.