Lent 2023 Day 18: Tue 14 Mar
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.
So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. ‘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. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.’
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But 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.’
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. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.
Astonished. The religious leaders were astonished. How could these two men standing before them speak like this? Where did their understanding come from? How could they piece together an unassailable argument like the one they’d just made?
Yes, Jesus had been teaching them, but we all know how poorly the disciples understood what Jesus was saying to them. Peter’s fresh understanding had come from the Holy Spirit’s anointing and revelation. What Jesus had said in the past to him and the other disciples now made more sense. Peter is now a long way away from the man who tried to stop Jesus going through with the path of suffering. The former coward can’t stop putting his head above the parapet, not because he is reckless but because he has understood the amazing, life-changing truth of God the Father’s plan and God the Son’s loving obedience and the Holy Spirit’s enabling.
This is the reason why he and John are standing trial in the council chamber inquisition.
To describe what Peter is doing as “preaching” is inadequate. Peter is laying his life down for Jesus. He cannot help speaking as a witness of the amazing things he’s seen and heard. He is able to see the precious strands of love, suffering and redemption that run through the Bible; he has pieced together the truth of God’s kingdom not as memorable phrases but as a complete and perfect way of life. He has nothing to fear but his failure to share the Good News at every God-given opportunity. He has no ambition but to be greeted in heaven with “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Peter knows what is right in God’s eyes, and he can only challenge those challenging him to work it out for themselves. Hier stehe Ich, Ich kann nicht anders.
How did Peter treat the people who were present?
How do I respond to the way other churches or fellowships do things?
Are there things your church/fellowship pronounces upon that sets you apart from other churches?
What were Peter and John doing when this all started?
Father God, wise and learned men stood in awe at the unassailable evidence and witness of two provincials and a dancing 40-year old man. Pour out your same Holy Spirit on me and my church fellowship, I pray, that we may be similarly open and responsive to the power and authority of Christ Jesus as we live our daily lives. Amen.