by M. J. Joachim
It is nearly impossible not to relate Acts 4: 1 – 22 to today’s political scene, in my opinion. The struggle for power, control and dominance is clear. Authority wants its due.
However, “authority” cannot argue effectively with fact and reality, which oppose the agenda prepared for its subjects. This is often what happens, when common sense is disregarded, in place of ego and self-righteousness.
Correspondingly, a “shush order” ~ something I like to call, “Silent but deadly,” attempts to go into effect. We all know what happens then, don’t we? The truth explodes on the scene like nobody’s business, because it simply cannot be contained, and everyone stands around like idiots, wondering what to do next.
For one (or many) cannot argue with the power of God, which is nothing less than absolute truth, and to be as bold as Peter and John were back in the day, a faith filled reality, supported by factual evidence.
Acts 4: 1 – 22 (as written in The New American Catholic Bible)
While they were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees confronted them, disturbed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They laid hands on them and put them in custody until the next day, since it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word came to believe and [the] number of men grew to [about] five thousand.
Before the Sanhedrin
On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes were assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high priestly class. They brought them into their presence and questioned them, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them, “Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed.
He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”
Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus. Then when they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them, they could say nothing in reply.
So they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, and conferred with one another, saying, “What are we to do with these men? Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign was done through them, and we cannot deny it. But so that it may not be spread any further among the people, let us give them a stern warning never again to speak to anyone in this name.”
So they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them further, they released them, finding no way to punish them, on account of the people who were all praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing had been done was over forty years old.
Just the Facts
Fill in the blank.
1. Peter, filled with the _____ _____ answered them.
2. _____ is the stone the builders rejected.
3. The _____ ordered Peter and John not to _____ or _____ in the name of Jesus.
1. Annas is the high priest.
2. The authority and rulers knew exactly what to do with Peter and John.
3. The crippled beggar was 40+ years old.
4. Peter and John were timid when they got arrested.
As you read this passage, how does it related to your life? Are you the one confronted by authority, or are you the authority figure, imposing your will on others?
Sometimes we’re a little of both, it seems. Life is messy (with many shades of gray), and we get all tangled up in it. Our intentions are often good, but they might get side-tracked in our efforts to achieve our goals.
How can you improve your response to others, regardless of your authoritative position? Do Peter and John in this passage, make it easier to appreciate the role of authority in your life, or at least deal with it in healthier, more productive ways?
It is nearly impossible to lift ourselves up when we feel slighted and harbor anger for those who have hurt us. Perhaps we’re even angry at ourselves, for allowing the hurt to happen. Maybe it was a really big hurt, and healing from it is one of the hardest things we’ll ever do in this life, if we ever can fully recover from such an injury.
Take a moment and reflect on the gift of salvation. Meditate on these words:
There is no salvation through anyone else (Jesus), nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved. (Acts 4: 12)
Every day, make a conscious choice to forgive yourself and those who have offended or hurt you in this life.
Games and Puzzles
Find the following words in the puzzle: Sanhedrin, Nazorean, praising, sign, John, teach, speak, Annas, answer, raising, punish
The Final Word
No good deed goes unpunished, at least not in the battle of good versus evil. How often it seems that good deeds end up dividing people, forcing them to takes sides against one another – in the name of achieving the (supposedly) same goal.
We witness so much controversy over human rights in today’s world. What is often a struggle to gain status, appears to me to be more of a defiance of self-dignity and denial of personal integrity. With all of the secrets, hidden agendas and private meetings – to what end, I wonder.
If we strip away all the pomp and circumstance, indeed all the fluff and strutting, it is almost too easy to recognize the truth. Oh, but we don’t really want to do that, do we? Because if we do, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.
See you next post, with the answers to the questions.
Until next, I wish you well,
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Photo Credits: Wikipedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution, NY UN building; Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain, Mattias Stom, Christ before Caiaphas; GNU Free Documentation License, Roger McLassus, Surface Waves; Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain, Gownley