Lent 2023 Day 19: Wed 15 Mar

Lent 2023 Day 19: Wed 15 Mar

cts 4.23-31

On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

‘“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.”

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Peter and John were bold men, but we should not think that their testimony in the courtroom left all of those listening convinced that Jesus is Lord. All we can say is that they were astonished that Peter could talk so cogently. Their desire was still to silence him and the others. They’d issued numerous threats in the council chamber as they sent the trio away.

It was not a victory, because God is not waging war on the Sanhedrin. He loves every member as much as anyone else. He has caused them to hear the truth and it’s up to them to respond. God also caused each member separately to hear the truth, and although the body of the council spoke as one, there will have been individual members who were not prepared to dismiss these things out of hand.

Peter and John were not punching the air as they left or whipping up the group in victory shouts when they came back. It wasn’t their victory. They got down to prayer. Why, Lord, are the nations so angry? Why do people plot against you? Their prayer was not one of thanks for supplying the killer words or for the safe exit from the Sanhedrin. It was not about their recent experience, but about what lies beneath – people in power plotting together against Jesus. But if we read the link in this paragraph we realise that all this anger is in vain, because God is greater.

The disciples together pray for continued boldness, not just to speak the truth about Jesus but also to perform healings and miracles in his name. The room got hotter, and the ceiling flew away. When the Holy Spirit comes the glory of the Lord comes, too.

The Holy Spirit came in response to the prayer, not as an extra bonus. The disciples had asked God to move in power, and God did that as he refreshed the company present with another dose of Holy Spirit blessing.

If you still seek the Holy Spirit in your life, are you praying along the lines of the disciples’ prayer?

Father God, I pray that you stretch out your hand in my congregation as we seek you with the same fervour the disciples showed as they prayed. Shake my fellowship, shake your Church. Amen.

Why do the nations rage?