Summary: Confidence can be well-placed, or misplaced. The difference in consequences can be eternal.
On the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem;
and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent.
When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, "By what power, or in what name, have you done this?"
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, " Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well,
let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by this name this man stands here before you in good health.
"He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.
"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. (vs 5-14)
From the moment the Apostles came out of the upper room in the power of the Holy Spirit, their message was attracting people, either in a positive sense or a negative; but attract people, it did.
They who had abandoned Christ in the garden of prayer, who had received news of His resurrection with a mixture of shock and incredulity, now went forth in a newborn confidence, not in themselves any longer, but in their Lord, and the world would never be the same again.
What a page turner the book of Acts is!
After the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth I’m sure things had gone pretty much back to normal for the Romans.
They may have been hearing some rumors of a resurrection and some low rumbles of gossip and speculation among the Jews because of it. But let the Jews have their religious delusions and their debates and their rituals, as long as they weren’t rioting or stirring up trouble.
As far as the Jewish religious leaders were concerned, there had to have been a bit more cause for concern in their minds than the Romans. After all, they had crucified this Nazarene to shut him and his followers up so the Romans wouldn’t come down on them and take away their freedoms, and then there was this very troubling news that they could not openly refute, of his having come back from the dead.
And since then there had been little news bytes coming back to them of sightings of this risen Jesus in various places around Galilee. Nothing they could put their finger on to put a halt to it, just rumblings; and that had to be unsettling to say the least.
We have recently been seeing news stories focused once more on Mt. St. Helens in Washington state. Most of us will remember the eruption of that volcano in 1980 that killed 57 people, 21 of whom were never recovered from the ashes, and now it is showing activity again. As I prepared this sermon it was spewing out some gasses and some ash, and authorities had cordoned off an eight mile buffer zone around the mountain in case another large eruption takes place. For the moment, it was just rumbling and spitting a little.
I imagine post resurrection, pre-Pentecost Judea being like that. Just rumblings, restlessness, whispers, furtive glances that communicate a sense that something is up; something is about to happen. But what?
Then the day of Pentecost comes and very suddenly, about 9 o’clock in the morning, the streets around the temple area are packed with people listening to a man speaking, and he is very boldly declaring the resurrection and Lordship of this Jesus, calling Him the Messiah, testifying that many witnesses have seen Him and been with Him, indicting the entire population of Judea for crucifying Him in the first place, and people are crying out in anguish and asking, “what must we do”, and they’re then going to the temple pools to be baptized, and, oh, the volcano has erupted!
Then Luke gives us this account of a lame man at the temple who gets healed of a life-long debilitation when Peter grabs his hand and lifts him to his feet, and then loudly gives this Jesus credit for the healing, and when the crowds gather in amazement, for they all know who this formerly crippled man is and they can’t deny he has been healed, Peter once more repeats his accusations, and his declarations, and his invitations, and about five thousand more end up running to be baptized!