Oscar Wilde has been attributed with the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished”.
The phrase suggest that in order to accomplish a truly good deed one has to suffer bad consequences in order to see a good outcome.
Much of Christian ministry is like this. We are often the people that others seldom seek out unless they are in need or trouble and then we are persecuted for giving aid.
Jesus is the greatest example of this phrase as He gave the ultimate selfless sacrifice for human beings who turned against Him for His act of love.
In today’s scripture we see both St. Peter and St. John arrested and jailed for doing a miracle in Jesus name.
Last week we looked at the power of Jesus name and now we see there are consequences for invoking it. Being a witness for Jesus or testifying about your faith in Jesus has never been popular.
We see that these consequences tend to come from the religious authority of the day.
The act of faith exercised by St. Peter and St. John resulted in the church growing by 5,000 people in one day. The next day in their defense Peter explains to the religious leaders what happened and by what power the crippled man was healed.
Peter also quotes scripture to them which proves to be prophetic.
“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’
Psalm 118:22 Acts 4:11
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Seeing the courage Peter and John had to speak about these matters caused the religious leaders to fear them. The religious leaders had a real problem. Neither Peter nor John were educated men but still they spoke like Prophets.
They were unmovable as witnesses, their testimony was undeniable since many people had actually witnessed the event and their conviction was unshakable because they were followers of Jesus.
Saints we need to read this Biblical account from time to time when we find our faith waning and our testimony lacking enthusiasm.
I was reminded this week about the power and influence a person’s testimony can have on others, religious or not. While accompanying my wife to a Dr.’s appointment this week we ran into someone much like Peter and John.
It was a woman, let’s call her Betty.
She shared not one but two miracles she had been a part of recently that impacted her life and faith in amazing ways.
She is a cancer patient who is receiving treatment from three different Doctors in three different hospitals. Her medical problems were a matter of physical record, scans and x-rays test etc., etc.
Undeniable proof of a medical issue that required surgery. She had undergone some surgery but there was a need for more tests and scans etc. that proved she needed more surgery.
However this lady is a Christian and a person of faith. The entire time the Doctors were speaking to her about the need for further surgery and treatment she kept telling them no “God’s going to heal me”. My faith is in Jesus.
She was met with significant push back by these men of science and even ridiculed for her statements of faith but she maintained her faith.
Weeks later as they did pre-op the doctors and nurses were surprised to find the once torn tissue showed no need of surgery. Betty told them matter of factly, “I told you I would be healed”.
Again the Doctors treater her with disbelief and ridicule as they sought some other conclusion but the truth was undeniable. Betty had been healed. Her anesthesiologist took her aside and said “yes” we see this from time to time but many Doctors don’t want to believe it”.
Saints where are our stories of faith? Where are our testimonies to the power of Jesus name?
Have our voices become muted to the truth?
Are we embarrassed to share such miraculous encounters with Jesus?
Yes, sharing such things may bring you into ridicule with others but if you present the truth they have no choice but to hear it for what it is.
The doctor’s office was full of people but Betty did not speak in the often whispered tones folks use in such settings. No she spoke openly and enthusiastically about her miraculous encounters.
People were looking at us and yes I was a little uncomfortable, I was aware that I had become a party to this public display of faith.
Realizing my role I submitted to it and found myself saying “Amen Betty” “Thank the Lord, Betty” with an ever louder voice.
God took this opportunity to remind me of my need to be ready to give account of the faith I claim to lay hold of.
1 Peter 3:15
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
1 Peter 3:13-15
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
St. Peter learned the practical application of these truths. He had denied Jesus three times when Jesus was first arrested by the same religious leaders who would later arrest and accuse Peter.
No longer would Peter deny Jesus or the power of His name for Peter had met with and spoke to the risen Christ.
38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Saints our society wants us to keep quiet about our witness to the power of Jesus name in our lives. They want us to be ashamed to mention His name.
We live at a time when our generation is truly sinful and adulterous. Many hearts have grown cold for their love of Christ. Let us be sure ours are not among them.
10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Do not grow cold Saints, light the fire of faith and speak Jesus name to others, do it boldly, unashamedly and loudly. Welcome the ridicule, welcome the persecution and we may well welcome more believers into the Body of Christ.