Thursday, September 13, 2007

Acts 4

Peter had just given another scathing rebuke to the crowd, and things finally began to get a little scary for he and John. The priests and Sadducees were not too happy about being rebuked like this, especially by a fisherman. They decided to put them in jail overnight, thinking that this would shut them up. Luke points out, though, that during this time more and more people were coming to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, and now the number of believers had grown to around 5000 men. That is amazing!

The next morning Peter and John were summoned before Caiaphas the high priest. Not at all intimated, Peter launched into another rebuke, reminding them once again that it was they who had murdered the Son of God. Luke writes, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished" (4:13). They had nothing to say. Furthermore, then man who had been healed was also in the room. There was nothing to say! In a last ditch effort to save face, they "warned" Peter and John to quit talking about Jesus...or else. Peter responded, "...for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (4:20).

After they were released they went to see their friends and shared what had taken place. This led into a time of prayer that ended with the ground shaking: "And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus" (4:29-30).

Notice that they did not ask God to keep them safe. They did not ask for God to deliver them from the same people who had killed their Master. No, they asked for boldness. They also asked for God to do what only He could do. They asked for signs and wonders.

Chapter 4 ends with another beautiful account of community. Luke writes, "no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common" (4:32). Luke goes on to say that there were no needy people among them. The reason: People who owned property and land were selling it and giving it to the apostles for distribution.

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