So here we find Peter and John who had been seized and jailed by the priests, the temple guard and the Sadducees because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. The message that they brought incensed the Sadducees because the apostles’ teaching refuted one of the Sadducees fundamental beliefs and called into question their religious authority. With that context in mind, there are a few things that stand out for me in the passage we have heard.
- The evidence of the Holy Spirit being at work through Peter and John – we are told that when they realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished
- The apostles spoke with boldness and authority about Jesus at every available opportunity. What we are seeing here are lives that have been transformed. Peter & John’s, but also the life of the crippled man that they had healed. The evidence before the religious authorities was authentic and irrefutable.
- That makes me think about the message that the wider Church today brings. Do we speak with boldness and authority about Jesus at every available opportunity? Is the evidence set before people in our communities compelling? In what ways are our communities hearing the voice of the Church today?
- Yes, we are living with the threat of Covid-19 and as a nation we are now officially experiencing a recession. This has certainly presented us with many challenges and will continue to do so, but it has also given us opportunities. We are able to come alongside people and offer hope, comfort and support not only in response to Covid, but also in response to the financial uncertainty that people are facing. Part of that response involves us living with authenticity and being consistent in a time of inconsistency and uncertainty. Part of that response involves us being prepared to speak out with boldness to give an account of the hope that we profess. Part of that will involve us seeking to be peacemakers as we endeavour to diffuse tensions in our communities. Part of that will involve us holding fast in faith and trusting God.
- The response of the early Church to the threats experienced by Peter and John was to pray…let me share that prayer with you…
“Sovereign LORD, you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’ Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, LORD, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
It is good to be reminded that God is our Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. May our prayer today be “LORD, consider these threats that we face today and enable us your servants by your Holy Spirit to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders in your Church throughout the world through the name of your holy servant Jesus. May your Kingdom come, may your will be done.” Amen.