Jesus’ Life: Chapter 20 – Early Spread Of Gospel By the Disciples
During the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Sadducees, who tended to be rich aristocrats, held the majority of the 70 seats in the Sanhedrin and maintained a close political connection with their Roman rulers. Indeed, the high priests Annas and Caiphas were Sadducees.
Among their many tasks at this time, was the maintenance of order around the temple and temple courts in Jerusalem.
When the commander of the temple guard and other Sadducee’s observed Peter and John preaching in the temple area, they approached and “seized” them because they were teaching Jesus’ Gospel to the people, healing the sick in Jesus’ name (crippled beggar) and announcing that Jesus had risen from the dead. (Acts 4:2-3) The latter was contrary to their own beliefs; they did not believe in the resurrection of the body or of an afterlife.
They held Peter and John overnight and the following day convened a meeting of the Sanhedrin. The meeting may have been their first formal gathering since their fake trial of Jesus! Those present included Annas, Caiaphas, John, Alexander and other rulers, elders and experts in the law.
Peter and John were stood in their midst and asked, “By what power or by what name did you… [heal the crippled beggar]?” (Acts 4:7) Notably, the wording of their question was an admission that Peter and John were instrumental in the miraculous healing of the crippled beggar!
Peter, “Filled with the Holy Spirit”, replied:
- “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today for a good deed done to a sick man – by what means this man was healed?
- Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, this man stands before you healthy.
- This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, that has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved”. (Acts 4:8-12) (Psalm 118:22)
In essence, Peter had bluntly told the Sanhedrin that they had crucified Jesus but Jesus rose from the dead and now continues his work, at will, here on earth.
The Sanhedrin were amazed at the “boldness” of Peter and John, calling them, “uneducated and ordinary men,” unlike them, the rulers, elders and experts in the law! (Acts 4:13) However, they also knew that Peter and John were disciples of Jesus and seeing the healed beggar now standing in front of them, they were unable to respond! Instead, they agreed to a pause in proceedings to confer among themselves.
Despite the Sanhedrin’s initial intentions to find fault with Peter and John, they failed and punishing them for some false crime was not plausible; the people might react as an estimated 5000 had already listened to and believed Peter and John’s message in the temple court area.
The Sanhedrin saw the “Hand of God ” in the miraculous healing of the man who was more than 40yrs old. The people also knew the man well and attributed his healing to the work of the resurrected Jesus.
The Sanhedrin concluded, “It is plain to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable miraculous sign has come about through them, and we cannot deny it. But to keep this matter from spreading any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this [Jesus’] name”. (Acts 4:16-17)
When the Sanhedrin reconvened, they “ordered” Peter and John “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus”. (Acts 4:17) But Peter and John courageously refused saying, “Whether it is right before God to obey you rather than God, you decide, for it is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard”. (Acts 4:19-21)
The Sanhedrin, powerless to do anything further without compromising their own positions, made further threats to Peter and John and then released them. (Acts 4:1-22)
It still happens today!
People are frowned upon, even arrested and imprisoned, for proudly showing their Christian faith! The charge can be as simple as wearing religious objects, blessing themselves before eating in public, stopping to pray, reading a religious book….
Lord Jesus, support us all day long as we live your Gospel and tell others of your great glory. Amen.
Prayer: Lord My God (St Anselm of Canterbury)
O Lord my God.
Teach my heart this day,
where and how to find you.
You have made me and remade me,
and you have bestowed on me all the good things I possess,
and still, I do not know you.
I have not yet done that for which I was made.
Teach me to seek you,
for I cannot seek you unless you teach me,
or find you unless you show yourself to me.
Let me seek you in my desire;
let me desire you in my seeking.
Let me find you by loving you;
let me love you when I find you. Amen.