Acts 3-4 – The Stand

Peter Heals a Lame Beggar

We read in the previous chapter that the disciples would meet everyday in the temple courts, to teach the people gathered there, about the word of God. One afternoon, when Peter and John were going up to the temple, they saw a man lame from birth sitting at the temple gates begging for alms. In Mark Chapter 2 we read about a paralyzed man, who needed his friends to carry him to Jesus to receive healing. But this man was being carried only till the temple gates and not inside. We often discard the power of prayers and healing and often help our friends in the ways deemed appropriate by our society. But Peter and John filled with the Holy Spirit were about to give this man the ability to walk, which to a man born a lame, is the greatest gift imaginable.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping,and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.- Acts 3:6-10

Peter Speaks to the Onlookers

When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. – Acts 3-12-16

Everyone came running to Solomon’s colonnade to see the lame beggar walk. Seeing the large crowds that had gathered to witness the astonishing miracle, Peter seized the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. It was at Solomon’s colonnade, where Jesus was almost stoned by the same people for proclaiming the same message. (John:23-30) But Peter led by the Spirit boldly took a stand for Christ, not fearing persecution, but urged everyone to repent and accept Christ as their personal savior. About two thousand more were added to their flock. The Holy Spirit transformed Peter from a person who abandoned Christ fearing persecution, to someone who was ready to die for the sake of the Gospel.

Peter and John Before the Sanhedrin

The priests and the Sadducees were greatly disturbed by Peter’s message as they were being accused of killing God’s son. Moreover the Sadducees  were known for their beliefs that there was no resurrection , nor were there any spirits or angels (Acts 23:8). What Peter and John were teaching to the crowds was against everything they had been preaching. They had them arrested to try and contain the spread of the Gospel.

The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others 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?” – Acts 4:5-7

Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas by marriage to his daughter and ruled longer than any high priest in New Testament times. Caiaphas was also the High priest who accused Jesus of blasphemy and was part of the chain of events that led Jesus to the cross. Peter and John were now facing the same fate.

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 man who was lame and are being 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. Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected,     which has become the cornerstone.’[c] – Acts 4:8-11

The Priests and Sadducees saw that Peter and John were unschooled, ordinary men and were astonished at their knowledge of the scriptures. They realized that these were the same men that were with Jesus, who they thought would have disbanded after Jesus’ crucifixion, but they were standing before them with great courage. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.

After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. – Acts 4:21

The Believers Pray

After being released by the Temple authorities, Peter and John went back to the believers and recited the entire incident. Everyone acknowledged the work of the Spirit, enabling Peter and John to make such a bold move amongst fierce opposition. They praised God and everyone present there were shaken as the Holy Spirit filled them with more boldness to proclaim the Gospel. The Holy Spirit gives us powerful and visible gifts, like the power of healing, but  the Spirit also enables us with boldness and the scriptural knowledge to proclaim the message of Christ to our friends, neighbors and coworkers.

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