Lent 2023 Day 16: Sat 11 Mar
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.
The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: ‘By what power or what name did you do this?’
The security team have spotted Peter. It wasn’t difficult. I’m sure Peter was making himself heard amongst the gathered crowd, and the healed man was still jumping about and praising God. This is not, of course, the sort of disturbance you’d want to see outside your church just as morning worship is starting – it might distract attenders away!
What Peter and John were doing was controversial – they were preaching (how dare they!) and revealing new truths from the Scriptures. Note that it wasn’t all Peter. The way the Pharisees and teachers of the law worked was to spend copious amounts of time arguing over a new idea before they came to agreed common view (if they ever did!), so this long-drawn-out practice was being flouted by mere Galilean fishermen. And there were some, the Sadducees, who did not like any teaching about resurrection, as there was, in their view, no such thing!
Peter and John were detained, pending a hearing. However, the damage had been done. Another two thousand people had seen what had happened, listened to Peter and concluded that he was talking truth. It wasn’t just Peter’s words. Peter was being guided by the Holy Spirit in speaking words that would touch hearts, and the Holy Spirit was also opening those hearts to receive the message. A message is not delivered if the letter-box is boarded up.
We should be careful to avoid thinking that preaching is what convicts (touches the hearts of) people. It’s God who convicts. You may have been enjoying a post-service cuppa, discussing the sermon, and wondering whether you’d been in the same room as everyone else because you such is the range of responses to the preaching. Peter had a right and duty to preach after what had happened.
I wonder if our preachers are all as bold as Peter. He is now up before the religious authorities on trial. The question asked of them was not part of a fact-finding exercise. You don’t bring the big chiefs in for that. Look, there’s Caiaphas! I hope he managed to sew up his robes. Imagine the question being spoken with fury and righteous indignation, a who do you think you are? Imagine the priests gathering as one to swat these troublesome Galilean mosquitos, and once and for all squash those rumours about Jesus so they might restore order once more. A good flogging or a death sentence ought to do it.
The court is in session.
Have you ever tested the power of the name of Jesus?
How do you tell others about Jesus and resurrection?
Are you convinced enough of your faith to take it to the courtroom?
Father God, there was no doubt in the hearts of Peter and John, speaking from the evidence of the power of the name of your Son Jesus. Place me there, I pray. Amen.