In our study last Sunday morning, we saw that while Peter and John were on their way into the temple for prayer, a lame man was healed by the power of the name of Jesus. This caused a crowd, which led to a lengthy evangelistic message.
But the authorities didn't like what was going on, and so they arrested Peter and John, leaving them in jail overnight.
All the "higher-ups" in Jerusalem were part of a group known as the Sanhedrin (Gk: "soon-ED-ree-on"), or the Council. They were the Supreme Court, having the final say on religious matters.
The size of the group was 70 men, plus the high priest, who had the highest position. And at this time in Jewish history, the dominant party was the Sadducees.
The Council gathered together, and put Peter and John in the middle of them. They demanded to know how these men had healed someone who was lame from birth. Since it had obviously been miraculous, not medical, they wanted to know by what power this had been done.
Luke makes note that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. This is necessary information, because it accounts for the difference between weak and wimpy Simon Peter who denied knowing Jesus when confronted by a servant girl (Matt. 26:69-70), and this incredibly bold Simon Peter who is standing up to the highest-ranking Jews in the world, preaching the gospel to them.
So Peter tells them, "If we're on trial so that you can find out how this man can miraculously walk now, then let me tell you... This is about Jesus Christ, was done in the name of Jesus Christ, and by the power of Jesus Christ. The same Jesus Christ you demanded that the Romans crucify not too many months ago. The same Jesus who raised up from the dead. The Jesus who is the only way that any of you can be saved!"
The members of the Sanhedrin were at a loss for what to say. Every one of them had spent most of the last four decades passing the lame man on the way into the temple. It was obvious he would never walk - they had all seen his legs. But they also couldn't deny that the man was walking now! They knew it was a miracle.
Another thing they knew was that Peter and John were obviously Galileans. Simple guys, former fisherman - untrained and uneducated. But here they were, confidently quoting Scripture to Jewish education's "cream of the crop."
They knew Peter and John had been with Jesus because of their confidence in spite of their lack of education and training - it was evident.
You may or may not have realized that you've seen the same thing here. Because week after week, you come to Calvary Chapel, and soak up the teaching of the Word of God. Many of you have told me variations of a story that says you learned more in your first month of Sundays than you did in 20 years of church previously. But maybe you aren't aware of just how untrained and uneducated I am.
I was not saved until my early 20's. During high school, my obsessions with drugs and heavy metal robbed me of all motivation for school - I barely graduated. After high school, I spent literally every day of the next three or four years on drugs. Mostly large quantities of marijuana and LSD - two drugs that make you very, very stupid.
And then I became a Christian. I stopped the drugs, and started studying the Bible. "What seminary did you attend, Pastor Ron," people frequently ask me. "No seminary," I reply. "Bible school? Pastoral training course? Correspondence college?" "No, no, and no," I say. "I just studied my Bible, and sat under gifted teachers at church five or six times a week, and on tapes and the radio every day. But mostly, I just spent time with Jesus."
Uneducated, untrained. No Bible degrees, no Master's in Theological Studies, no Doctorate of Divinity, no seminary accreditation. Nothing that the world respects regarding a "man of the cloth."
- I can't be a chaplain for the military, but more military families come to church here instead of the military chapel.
- I can't be a pastor for churches of most denominations, and yet many people have left their denominational churches to learn here.
- In most settings, I am not recognized as a professionally certified anything... I could never impress anyone in the Sanhedrin! But here we are, learning the Word of God, even though by almost all accounts, I am a total nobody.
The Sanhedrin knew that Peter and John were total nobodys.
And you are most likely a total nobody when it comes to accreditation for ministry. But don't ever let that stop you from serving God.
The key is not in the degree... it is in people recognizing that you've been with Jesus!
The Council knew the miracle was obvious, and there was going to be no denying it. But they were too hard-hearted to actually hear Peter's message about Jesus Christ. So, they used the only defense they had: threats.
Have you noticed that this strategy hasn't changed in the last 2,000 years? Since they can't argue and win, the world's strategy is simply to try silence and keep the name of Jesus out of it.
Even the simple mention of "Merry Christmas" was causing an uproar two months ago! Why? Because the world doesn't want to hear about Jesus in any way, shape, or form.
I love Peter's response to their threats: "Well, you guys can debate and decide whether the Sanhedrin overrules God in matters... but as for us, we're gonna do what God tells us to do."
That is so great! There are so many religious organizations and denominations arguing today about church doctrines, about whether homosexuals should be ministers, and what the church's stance on the inspiration of the Scriptures will be.
I wish in every one of those meetings, someone would stand up like Simon Peter and say, "Debate and decide as much as you want. But as far as I'm concerned, what God says stands, and that's all I can do!"
When the apostles returned to the church and reported what had been threatened of them, notice what they did:
- They organized a political action committee.
- They proclaimed a boycott against all Sadducean products.
- They started a grass-roots phone-calling and e-mail campaign.
- They held a protest march on the steps of the temple.
- They circulated petitions around the community.
No, they of course did none of that. Instead, they got down on their knees and prayed.
Acts 4:29 "And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your Word with all confidence"
They prayed because it's God's church, it's God's gospel, and they're God's people.
They simply asked for confidence to continue speaking the Word in spite of threats.
Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.