Summary: We begin chapter 4 by seeing that the real enemies of Christ show up to put a stop to what Peter and John are saying. They’re kind of OK with the healing, but they are not OK with whom they are giving credit to for the healing
Peter and John, the rock and the one Jesus loved most, the two men who were without a doubt closest to Jesus when he walked the earth. Just walking down the street outside the MTS centre in Winnipeg, they see a crippled beggar outside the arena asking them for a few bucks. They don’t turn their heads and walk by ignoring him, they stop, look intently at him and tell him they have no money, but they have something even better. He’s saying to himself, “O great more advice” but then gets miraculously healed and saved by Jesus. So here’s the question; was the something better the fact that they healed the man physically, or that he became a believer in Jesus?
Both are pretty good aren’t they, but one lasts forever, the other doesn’t. The point is that by the power of Christ we can get both, a better life here on earth, and eternity with Him in the afterlife. I think this is also a picture of missions - money and meeting basic needs is good, but salvation is so much better.
But as we move from chapter 3 to 4 in the book of Acts we see that there was a bigger purpose for the miracle of healing. Remember a couple of weeks ago we talked about the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit sent to us, was to witness about Jesus Christ and what he has done. Well this one healing gets them two audiences, one consisting of mostly ordinary people, and another consisting of the highest religious leaders at the time. This miracle gets their feet in the door.
We begin chapter 4 by seeing that the real enemies of Christ show up to put a stop to what Peter and John are saying. They’re kind of OK with the healing, but they are not OK with whom they are giving credit to for the healing, especially the part about Jesus being raised from the dead.
What I want you to see is that the enemies here are the religious or spiritual people of the time, and the truth is that these are the primary enemies of Christ today as well. And the primary stumbling block then as it is today, is the resurrection of the dead. People are fine with Christians if they are nice, generous, helpful people. The church is good as long as it is creating hospitals and universities. Did you know that 100 of the first 110 universities in North America, including most of the Ivy League schools began as Christian institutions? And it’s only been in the last century or so that any hospitals were not started by the church.
But when we go and bring Jesus into the picture, hackles get up and people get upset. Especially when we make the crazy remark that Jesus was raised from the dead and that he is the only way a person can be saved. Both of those things are what Peter claims in his messages.
So, many of the people believed Peter’s message from the last chapter and now we see in verse 4 of ch 4 that in a few days the church has grown to about 5000 families. So the high religious mucky mucks are getting very nervous and they all meet in Jerusalem and get Peter and John brought before them.
Notice who was there. It says that all the rulers and elders and teachers of the religious law were there with most the of the high priest’s family. This must have been big for them all to get together. These guys believed in God, they even believed in the same God. But this Jesus thing was a thorn in their side. Believe what you want to believe, but don’t go talking about it publicly all over the place.
Now they don’t deny that this was a legitimate healing of this beggar, but they demand, “By whose name, and by what power have you done this?” Remember they were instrumental in getting Jesus killed a couple months ago. They thought this would have finally brought an end to this trouble making movement. But now all these weeks after, they are seeing that maybe this Jesus has been resurrected in his followers, and this is an even bigger threat now.
So in verse 8 Peter launches into his third sermon, in an incredibly intimidating situation, and filled with the Holy Spirit he begins with a question. He basically says are we being arrested because we have done a good deed for a crippled man? And then he clearly and unabashedly tells them by what power he was healed, and sticks a little jab in there as well. He says, “To all the people in Israel, he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.”