What courage Peter and John showed as Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke to the men who had just had them arrested and thrown in prison all night. What was their crime? They had proclaimed faith in Jesus to a lame man and this man had been miraculously healed. The crowd had been so stirred up that the leaders decided to start persecuting Peter and John. They were trying to stop their proclamations about Jesus being the Messiah of God.
Peter boldly confronted them with their sin of crucifying Jesus and told them God had raised Jesus from the dead and that was why healing power had come to the lame man. Even the leaders couldn’t help admiring Peter and John’s courage, but decided to try and stop them by forbidding them to use the name of Jesus anymore.
It was useless. They couldn’t intimidate the two men. ‘But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”’ (Acts 4:19-20).
They were to arrest Peter, John and the other apostles twice more, and yet were no more successful in their threats. ‘But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men”’ (Acts 5:29). Jesus had become the ‘cornerstone’ of their faith and was giving them the power of the Holy Spirit. No matter whether they lived or died they were determined to give a faithful witness of the most important event in history - the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The meaning of this had to be proclaimed for all time to come ‘And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12).
We can’t find any warrant for rebellion against worldly authorities in the Scriptures. We are told to obey them (1 Peter 2:13-14). But there is a point at which we must disobey anyone who tells us to ignore God’s commands and to go against His will for our lives. This story in the book of Acts should give us encouragement to do that. In times of persecution we have a clear example which we can follow.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, may I be as brave as Peter and John if someone tries to intimidate me with threats to give up following Jesus. May I stand strong on the truths of the Gospel that Jesus has been crucified, raised from the dead, is now in heaven and there is salvation in no-one else. May I also be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and the courage He brings. May I too speak of what I have experienced of Jesus and be a faithful witness. Amen.
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