“By what power or by what name did you do this?” (v. 7)

Acts 4:1-12 Thursday 4 May 2017

Psalm: Psalm145:8-21


The story continues into Acts chapter 4 from yesterday's passage about the healing inthe temple. Peter and John had obviously ruffled a few officialfeathers not just with the healing, but with their insistence thatthe power for such healing resided in Jesus, who had been raisedfrom the dead by God (Acts3:15). No wonder that the priests (Sadducees) came running, forthey did not believe in any resurrection; and the temple guardsalso moved swiftly to remove anything that had the faintest whiffof popular excitement that might upset the Romans. Peter and John,in action and word, were challenging the comfort of the status quoin both religious and secular terms.

A night in jail for the two apostles (verse 3) wasfollowed by questioning before the hastily-arranged Sanhedrin, thesupreme court of the Jews that had the right of arrest. Sadduceeswere joined by the Jewish legal experts, Pharisees, for such ahearing. The key question, "By what power or by what name did youdo this?" is put to Peter and John. They would have known theanswer, but just as in Luke22:71, when this same court assembled to question Jesus, theyneeded to hear Peter's proclamation "from his own lips". This isPeter who, in Luke 22:54-62, disowned Jesus; but not this time!Before the Sanhedrin was a 'new' Peter, repentant and refreshed bythe experience of the resurrected Jesus and the inspiration ofGod's Holy Spirit.

So Peter, simply and straightforwardly, with no ifsor buts or maybes, tells the Sanhedrin that this "good deed done tosomeone who was sick" (v. 9) was done in "the name of Jesus Christof Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead" (v.10). This was extremely courageous, given that this same court hadcalled for Jesus to be killed a short time before. Perhaps ourpresent knowledge of how the story unfolds dulls for us the extentof Peter's bold conviction. When Peter got up to speak he could nothave known whether or not the Sanhedrin would decide to ask forJohn and himself to be killed as Jesus had been.

Verses 8-12 are an extraordinary piece ofconcentrated evangelism. It is Christian witness at its sharpest inthe most difficult of circumstances!

Those who profess to be followers of Christ willface questions about their personal experience with Jesus, albeitin different faith, cultural and secular contexts throughout theworld. I wonder if we are as bold as Peter when danger, ridicule oreven indifference confronts us.

To Ponder

  • When do you find it difficult to stand up for what you believe?What holds you back?
  • If we believe God can take control of our lives, and believethat life with Christ is an eternal dimension, what reasons arethere for us to fear in this earthly life?
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