The Days after Pentecost - 5
The church in Jerusalem faced opposition to its message for the first time. Peter and John had been arrested by the Jewish leaders because they “were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead”. They spent the night in jail. No phone calls, no lawyers, no bail, no angels, no visible help at all. Just the Holy Spirit living inside them. Let’s see how they respond to this test.
“The next day the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: ‘By what power or what name did you do this?’
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone”.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.’
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.”
The presence and power of the Holy Spirit cannot be over-stated. Since Pentecost, He had been in complete control. Whenever Peter and John spoke, it was by His power. They were “filled with the Holy Spirit” each time. They did not need sermon notes or a script. He was better than a “teleprompter” and He made no mistakes.
Jesus had warned the disciples this time would come. He also told them what would happen and how to respond –
“Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account, you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time, you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matthew 10:17-20)
We can be sure that the words of Jesus are true. It happened just as He said it would, and it continues to this day in many parts of the world. America has been blessed with freedom from persecution, but we are beginning to see the end of that freedom.
The Bible has mostly been removed from our society. Freedom of Religion is now being interpreted as Freedom from Religion and believers are being told not to talk about God or Jesus.
Freedom of speech is under attack. “Hate speech” is the new term and may be applied to just about anything, including speaking the truth of God’s word. But speak the truth we must, no matter the consequences, following the example of Peter and John.
We also see that Jesus said His disciples would be arrested and beaten so they can be witnesses. One of the ways God spreads His word is through the persecution of the saints. Even the persecutors get to hear the gospel.
God has a plan and purpose for everything. If His plan should involve persecution for us, we know He will still be in charge. We need only to stand firm, speak the truth, and trust Him to do what He said He would do.