Summary: This message tells us that we can change our lives and be better people by embracing the creeds and deeds of Christ.
While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, 2much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. 3So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand. 5The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem,6with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ 12There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” 13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus (Acts 4:1-13).
As a baby-boomer, I am a big fan of the TV series ‘Leave it to Beaver’. My favorite moment was a dialog between June Cleaver and Eddie Haskel. Eddie says ‘Your hair always looks so nice Mrs. Cleaver’; she replies ‘Why thank you Eddie!’ He replies ‘My mother says that you must spend all of your time in the beauty parlor’. Hence in a very subtle and funny manner, Eddie’s mother suggested that June’s beauty was not natural – that her beauty came from the combination of hair products and skilled hands. June looked like she had been in a beauty salon.
Our primary text suggests that a similar incident occurred about 2000 years earlier. This earlier incident happened not long after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus but before the deceit of Ananias and Sapphira. In the third chapter of Acts, Peter and John encountered a lame man. They ministered to him in a miraculous manner; the man became strong enough to walk. The people who saw the miracle gathered together, and Peter used that moment to preach Christ.
The Jewish leaders put Peter and John under overnight arrest. The next day, Peter and John stood before their accusers, and once again Peter used a crowd as a moment to preach Christ. Just as Eddie Haskel’s mother had sized-up June Cleaver, the Jewish leaders sized-up Peter and John. They discerned that Peter and John were not intellectually astute and were not naturally oozing with theological profundity. Therefore they concluded that these former fishermen must have been with Jesus.
Let’s ask the text three questions: (1) What are the characteristics of a companion of Jesus? (2) What differentiates a follower from a non-follower? (3) What did the Jewish leaders see?
The text suggests that a nurturing experience with Jesus was evidenced by the beliefs and actions of Peter and John. Their creeds and deeds – their orthodoxy and orthopraxy - were consistent with the mind and ministry of Christ.
What did Peter and John believe? They believed that:
• Jesus was the crucified and resurrected Son of God
• Jesus was spoken of by the prophets
• Jesus was sent to turn people from sin
• Jesus was the only vector of salvation
What did Peter and John do? They:
• Stopped to make someone else’s life better
• Stopped to lift up someone who was down
• Stopped to recognize someone who was known by his birth defect instead of his birth name
• Stopped to change a Buberian ‘I-It’ relationship into an ‘I-Thou’ relationship
• Stopped to transform ‘a lame man’ into ‘a man’ by miraculously removing the adjective of social isolation
The creeds and deeds of Peter and John bore proof that they had been with Jesus Christ.
Please remember that Peter and John had not always looked like they had been with Jesus. In fact, it was when they were with Jesus that they looked the least like Him. For example, when Jesus was being arrested, Peter cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. And in the 9th chapter of Luke, John and his brother James wanted to call down lightning to incinerate an unwelcoming Samaritan village. Disfiguring someone and wanting to use meteorological weapons of mass destruction do not mirror the person of Christ. Jesus’ perspective was to love one’s enemies – not scale them and fry them.