13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.Acts 4:13-22
Last week, I heard back from one of my readers, and they referred to the devotion as “R & R”. That typically refers to rest and relaxation. While those are good things – and definitely things that I crave, it is much better and fulfilling to be able to rest in the presence of Jesus and be refreshed in our time spent with Him.
I find myself often returning to the verses that sparked the idea for the Refresh & Restore devotions:
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.Acts 3:19-21
We have talked at length over the last month about repentance. We have looked at how we have sinned against God and need to turn away from our sin to Christ our Savior. Now, I want us to see some examples of what it looks like to have been in the presence of Jesus.
Our passage today connects with these verses; they are part of the same event. Peter and John happened upon some people carrying a “man lame from birth” to the Beautiful Gate where he would beg for money (Acts 3:2). That man found more than he bargained for when he encountered Peter and John. Peter introduced him to the One who would change his life forever – Jesus. He told him:
“I have no silver and gold, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”Acts 3:6
And, just like everyone who has ever encountered Jesus, his life was changed thereafter.
Peter and John would proceed to have the opportunity to preach the gospel to a multitude of people at the temple because of this event and that man’s testimony. They testified to the amazing and miraculous salvation that takes place when people put their faith and trust in Christ. That same gospel still applies today for you and me! If we turn from our sin and put our faith and trust in Christ, we can find salvation as well!
Peter and John’s message travelled all the way to the Sanhedrin (Israel’s Supreme Court at the time). The powers-that-be were “greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:2). They set out – and succeeded – in arresting Peter and John. Their annoyance led to anger. But the gospel preached led to “many of those who heard the word [believing]” – “about five thousand” (Acts 4:4)!
The Sanhedrin felt that they had a duty to the status quo to keep Peter and John quiet. They tried the same thing with Jesus when they crucified Him. But, they were about to find that they could not stifle or silence the gospel. As Big John often says, “Preacher’s gonna preach!” Rather than being put out or discouraged by their arrest, Peter and John found themselves with a captive audience to hear their plea before the court. I can almost picture them smiling at the opportunity to testify!
I find it amazing that the people who failed to kill Jesus (well, they succeeded in killing Him for a few days) would ask as foolish a question as they did to Peter and John. They wanted to know “By what power or by what name did you do this?” For people who wanted them to stop proclaiming the name of Jesus, they sure went about it foolishly! Those who arrested Peter and John to quiet them just invited them to preach in the court!
It would have been easy for Peter and John to take credit for the healing of the lame man. It would have been easy for them to claim some sort of power and use it to manipulate the court into freeing them. They could have complied with the order to stop preaching. Or could they? There are many places in the world today that the powers-that-be have ordered that people stop preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. In those places, they would not care that good had come from people being saved, healed, or otherwise. They simply will not abide with the name of Jesus being proclaimed.
But the Bible is clear on the subject. The gospel must be proclaimed:
- Jeremiah 20:9 – If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary holding it in, and I cannot.
- Amos 3:8 – The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophecy?
- John 15:27 – [Jesus said] And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
- 1 Corinthians 9:16 – For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
When one is saved by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone, they cannot help but proclaim it! And that is just what Peter and John did in response to the question of the court:
“Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead – by Him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 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 4:8b-12
Instead of seeking to free themselves from arrest, they sought to offer opportunity through the gospel for lost people to be freed from their sins and saved by Jesus!
The response of the court is that they were “astonished” that these “uneducated, common men” were able to preach with such “boldness” (v. 13). And their astonishment fell beyond Peter and John. The powers-that-be “recognized that they had been with Jesus”! May that be our testimony today – that people will recognize that we have been with Jesus, that we have been in His presence!
Spending time with God is always a noticeable thing. I know that I can tell a difference in myself and my own attitude when I spend time with Him in His Word and prayer. I also find that I cannot share what I have not experienced. Just as the lame man could not wait to run and tell everyone once he had been healed, Peter and John could not but tell people about the influence that Jesus had made on them – the impact of moving from death in their sins to life in Christ (Ephesians 2:1, 4-5)!
The Sanhedrin were afraid for the gospel to continue because they had witnessed first-hand that it is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). It is quite a statement that the people who wanted to stop the preaching had a genuine belief that its preaching would cause the Way of Christ to continue and permeate their community. Do we believe that?
Are we spending time in God’s Word and in prayer and seeing it carry over into our lives? Are people looking at us and recognizing that we have been with Jesus? Unfortunately, we often just blend into the crowd. Our powers-that-be are not crying for us to cease preaching. But maybe we have yet to begin! May we think back to what Christ has done for us and proclaim it to any who will listen. Or else maybe we look and find that our lives have not yet been changed. What good news it is that Jesus specializes in just such a situation. “…[C]onfess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, [and] you will be saved” (Romans 10:9) Then, and only then can you rest and be refreshed in His presence!