30 April 2011

Acts 4:13-22

"... for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard." (v. 20)


After Peter's bold words in yesterday's passage, the Jewish religious authorities stood amazed at these two ordinary working men giving such an astounding theological defence. Leaders who were prominent in the story of Jesus' death (such as Annas and Caiaphas, the high priests) recognised Peter and John as disciples who followed Jesus into Jerusalem (and who should surely know what happens to such rebels) and yet they stood defiant! And to confound them even further stands the man who was healed; the former lame man who seemed reluctant to leave the sides of the apostles (Acts 3:1-11). They were speechless (as Jesus has predicted in Luke 21:15). There was no easy way to silence such men - since everyone was talking about the healing of the lame man. And in this climate public opinion could so easily turn against the authorities. So the leaders tried what many religious authorities do to this day: they banned them from speaking in the name of Jesus.

But Peter bravely invokes a higher power - for God had instructed them precisely to speak, and teach, and heal, and baptise, in the name of Jesus (see Matthew 28:1-20) - and besides which, they simply couldn't keep quiet about him! The threats of the religious leaders fell on deaf ears, and not only did the Apostles' mouths keep on praising Jesus for all he had done, but all the people too!

To Ponder

Read some of the classic Methodist hymns from a time of great spiritual revival (eg O for a thousand tonguesCome sinners to the gospel feastGive me the faith which can remove). Think about the fervent words of those who 'could not keep from speaking' about what they had found in Jesus.

What do you think would be the effect of a church today that simply couldn't stop talking about what God had done?

The Apostles were supported by the man who had been healed standing alongside them. How can our words be backed up by evidence of what God is doing in our lives?

How can we support Christians who are persecuted for speaking in the name of Jesus today?

Bible notes author

The Revd Andrew Murphy

Andrew Murphy is married to Emily and they have two children, Phoebe (aged 4) and Benjamin (aged 18 months). Andy is the superintendent minister of the Market Harborough Circuit (a small circuit in the south of Leicestershire, and over the border into Northants). Previously, Andy’s ministry was based in Barwell in the Hinckley Circuit for eight years. And before that, he trained at the Wesley Study Centre in Durham, close to his home-town of Consett. Andy has a passion to help God’s people grow in faith, and occasionally writes hymns, sketches and songs. Spare time includes trips to play parks, watching Disney films or Postman Pat, reading Mr Men books, visiting Middle Earth, and reminiscing over the good old days of supporting Newcastle United. In the picture, Andy is the one in blue (and the snowman’s name is Olaf)!