Summary: Can People Tell That You Have Been With Jesus?
Eklessia: Identity - Discovering Christ's Identity
Text: Acts 4: 23-31
Some years ago I was invited to an Interfaith event where I was asked to pray the opening prayer when I finished I thought I had prayed a great prayer little did I know afterwards that I had offended some. The reason why I offended them was because I ended my prayer with " in the name of Jesus".
I have never lived in a time where I thought that mentioning the name of Jesus in a public place would bring such resistance.
All I was doing was Identifying with the one in whom i gave my life to.
I have found out that even today as I stand before you...... People still have a problem with the fact that you IDENTIFY with a SAVIOR who Died and Rose again 3 Days later!
Peter and John were arrested and tried. They were arrested "as they spoke," that is, while they were preaching. Remember that the cripple man had walked through the temple leaping and praising God (Acts 3:8-11). With all the excitement of this man's healing, a huge crowd of thousands had rushed to see the cripple man who had been healed and to hear the message being proclaimed by the two men who had such power.
The excitement and noise were bound to attract the attention and bring the temple authorities to the scene. What they saw and heard disturbed them to no end. They thought they had eliminated the "Jesus movement" eight weeks earlier when they had crucified Jesus.
They had heard about the preaching incident several days earlier and how excited the people had become (Acts 2:5f). Now these two men (Peter and John) were publicly preaching the fact that God had raised Jesus from the dead. And they were preaching, of all places, in the temple precincts.
It was time to investigate the matter, to nip the movement in the bud before it could spread.
Note those who came to arrest them. As mentioned above, they had stopped Peter right in the middle of his message.
Peter and John suffered abuse because they preached the resurrection. The officials were threatened by the preaching of Jesus being raised from the dead. They knew that it was the nature of people to respond to hope, especially to great hope. They also knew that great excitement existed within the people's heart for the coming of the Messiah and that it would take only a small spark of hope to set the excitement aflame.They just could not allow Jesus to be preached, not the hope of His resurrection, for the resurrection meant that all men who followed Him would arise. People ached and were ripe for such a message. Therefore, the authorities, knowing the nature of man and the situation, were threatened. If the people turned to the new movement, the authorities......feared the loss of the people—their loyalty, recognition, and esteem.
They feared their loss of position, authority, and livelihood. If they lost the loyalty of the people or allowed a disturbance, the Romans would replace them with other officials.
The Romans were usually tolerant, but they were quick to stamp out disorder and disloyalty.
They also feared the people might begin to think that their doctrine was wrong. If they allowed the preaching of the resurrection to continue, they would be admitting that God had by-passed them and revealed the truth to others.
Their own spiritual condition and beliefs and teachings would be suspect. They were the secure religionists and the official religious leaders. Therefore, they would be jeopardizing their own religion and leadership among the people. They would be undermining their own sense of security and their sense of being acceptable to God.
They feared acknowledging they were wrong in crucifying Jesus. If He were truly the risen Son of God, then they were sinners, chief sinners, guilty of denying and rejecting God's Son.
Note how the same fears strike so many today, causing them...not to support true men and women of God and the genuine movements of God. So many today are afraid not to rock the boat. Not to do what is right.
Too many today are seeking after: acceptance,esteem,recognition,position,wealth,possessions, authority( power),bigger and better things instead of really serving Gods.
So .....when the authorities arrested Peter and John. It was late in the afternoon, it too late for a trial, so they placed them in jail for the night.
I want you to notice the significance of the fact that before Peter was arrested, he had shared enough of the gospel for the crowd to respond.As a result of this Five thousand men (not counting women and children) made decisions for Christ.
Persecution did not stop the Word of God nor the Spirit of God from working and reaching souls who were saved despite the abuse and opposition.