Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’
Acts 4:18-20 (NIV)
Read: Acts 4:1-22
Consider: Imagine the scene. Peter and John had just seen a lame man healed and the crowd had reacted in such a way that Peter had to explain that the man had been healed through no power of their own (Acts 3). It was made clear to the crowd that the healing took place in Jesus’ name and through faith in him.
Speaking boldly to the crowd Peter seeks to tell them who Jesus is and what has been achieved through his death and resurrection. Unfortunately their boldness led to them being imprisoned overnight and then being brought before the Sanhedrin (the ruling religious council or assembly in Jerusalem). In the face of threats and intimidation, Peter and John went on to defend themselves by turning attention away from themselves onto Jesus. In 4:12 they say:
‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’.
We are told that it was the apostles’ courage and the fact that they were unschooled ordinary men that astonished the Sanhedrin (4:13). Don’t miss the words at the end of 5:13 where we read that ‘… they [the Sanhedrin] took note that these men had been with Jesus’. There was something about these men that spoke clearly of their involvement with Jesus.
The Sanhedrin were fearful of the apostles’ message spreading further and we are told that ‘… they called them in and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus’ (4:18). Peter and John could have backed down at this point and walked away from the situation. Instead their boldness continued and we read that their response was ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard’ (5:19-20).
Does it not seem strange to you that Peter and John should have to remind the top religious assembly in Jerusalem that they could only be answerable to God (as were the Sanhedrin)? Surely the religious leaders would know to whom they were ultimately answerable? Peter and John don’t claim to have any special training or religious knowledge, but what is obvious is that they had been with Jesus and they were moved to speak about what they had seen and heard. It wasn’t second-hand testimony, but what they had witnessed themselves.
What moves you to tell others about Jesus? What prevents you from boldly taking the opportunities God gives you to share the good news of the gospel with others?
Pray: Father, may we be truly moved by your Holy Spirit to boldly share the good news of the gospel with a needy world. Help us to stand firm in the face of threats and intimidation. Amen