devotion 6-8-15

Good Morning!In a few minutes I will be leaving for our Florida Annual Conference, this year held in Daytona Beach. I look forward to reconnecting with old friends! Your devotions will be somewhat irregular this week, but I will try to send you inspiring notes from some of the speakers.

Acts 4:1-22

While Peter and John* were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, 2much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. 3So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.

5 The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John,* and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7When they had made the prisoners* stand in their midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,* whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11This Jesus* is
“the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.”*
12There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.’

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. 14When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. 16They said, ‘What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. 17But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.’ 18So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; 20for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ 21After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. 22For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old.

This is the first time the apostles are arrested; it will not be the last. The priests, the Captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees came to question Peter and John while they taught in the temple. All of them were angry – the priests and their guards because he was teaching that through Jesus, whom they had crucified, there is resurrection; and the Sadducees were annoyed that anyone was preaching resurrection – they did not believe in resurrection at all. Since it was late, they threw the apostles into prison until the next morning.

The next morning, they all gathered to examine the matter – the high priest, Annas (he was actually retired high priest by this time and Caiaphas, his son-in-law, who presided over Jesus’ trial was high priest, but the title, like that of “Bishop” was a life-long title) and all the priestly family (Johnathan would be high priest 36 – 37 CE), as well as the elders and others of the Sanhedrin. And they challenged the apostles, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Peter says, you’re questioning us for doing good to someone who was sick? Well, then, let everyone know that this healing came through the name of Jesus Christ, whom you crucified, and God raised from the dead! And Peter goes on, telling them that salvation is available through Jesus.

The rulers and elders were amazed at the boldness of these ordinary fishermen! And they sent them out so that they could discuss this among themselves. The problem was, they had had Jesus crucified, and these men spoke of him; but the man who had been healed had been seen by all the people, and they could hardly convict someone of healing someone! And so they called Peter and John back, and they ordered them not to speak anymore in the name of Jesus. But Peter responded, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Even very early in the spread of the message of Jesus, there were enemies of the Word, but there were also brave people, like Peter, who stood up and spoke out, for Christ and the Kingdom of God. And when they were released they praised God.

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