By Ken R. Speakman
Member, Tulip Grove Baptist Church, Old Hickory
We begin our lesson in chapter 4 by turning our attention to events of chapter 3. Peter and John are about to enter the temple when they encounter a lame beggar who has been lame since birth. In the name of Jesus the beggar is healed and begins to leap and jump. This story weaves its way through the middle of chapter 4. As a result of this beggar’s conversion, the persecution of the early church begins.
Just as the Old Testament prophets were able to authenticate themselves through miracles, so the New Testament church period opened with apostles whom Christ has given power to heal (Matthew 10:8). These miracles were performed to demonstrate the power of the gospel and bring glory to the Lord Jesus. After seeing the miracle of healing the lame beggar, more than 5,000 believed.
The healing of this lame beggar drew the attention of the captain of the temple guard and greatly disturbed the Sadducees. The apostles were teaching the crowd and proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Because of the wealth and influence of this group, Peter and John were facing a serious problem. They had not broken any law by healing a lame man, but the power to heal him was credited to Jesus, a man the Sanhedrin thought was dead. If the two apostles were right, the Sanhedrin was guilty of condemning to death the Messiah. They took them away from the crowd and held them until the next day.
The two apostles appear before the rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest (vv. 5-6). There they stand before wealthy, powerful men in fine robes, who are religious experts holding seminary doctorates. Peter and John were poorly dressed, callused, rough speaking fisherman. If there was ever a moment these humble fisherman would be fearful and intimidated, it must be now.
They were placed in the center of the group and the questioning began (vv. 7-8). Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, preaches to them giving all glory and power to Jesus Christ whom they crucified, but God raised from the dead. The Holy Spirit indwells a believer at the moment of salvation, but there are many fillings. In other words, there are times in our lives when the Spirit of God consumes our minds, hearts, and tongues so that we speak boldly for Jesus (vv. 8-11). Peter displayed great courage and finished his message with verse 12, making it abundantly clear there is no salvation except in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of the apostles and perceived them as ordinary men who had been with Jesus.
The question we may ask ourselves is: “Is there anything I can’t do when I am filled with the Holy Spirit?” Who or what is it that intimidates you to silence in your settings? Is it the corporate office; the liberal campus; the exercise club; or unsaved relatives? What does it take for you to be courageous and stand like Peter and John and testify for Jesus Christ?