Peter and John Before the Council Continued
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name (of Jesus).”
18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.
Observations and Reflections
Like Jesus, the miracles performed in the sight of the people enraged the religious leaders. They were beyond frustrated at this point, having disposed of Jesus already but still being plagued by Jesus’ disciples healing in His name. But what could they do to stop these events? The short answer for the current time was nothing. They could do nothing. That is why they were threatened and released.
However, this problem with Jesus’ disciples created a huge catch 22 for the religious leaders. If they killed Jesus AND all of his disciples, the crowds would be enraged. They did not want to cause an uprising. Thus, they decided to just threaten the disciples in order to scare them into not using the name of Jesus anymore. If they wanted to heal people, then that is fine, but no longer speak the name of Jesus. Naturally, this threat towards the disciples was meaningless as they were going to speak of this Lord, Jesus Christ, regardless of the consequences. This was the Pharisees and Sadducees biggest fear. If the Jesus followers were not controlled, Rome is going to crack down on Judea and disallow them to control their own affairs.
The rulers of the time had come to recognize that Peter and John were disciples of Jesus. They knew from times before that when Jesus had performed miracles that it was unwise to act on their anger or jealousy due to fear of what the crowd might do. Here they were unable to deny that what Peter and John had done was indeed in a miracle. Yet, despite what they saw, their hearts were still hardened to the power and name of Jesus Christ and the solution they came up with was to have them never speak of Him again.
They denied Christ back during his ministry, denied His work on the cross and His resurrection. Even more so, they are dismissing the fact that because He is alive, His Holy Spirit is still at work. To deny His work in and through these men is declaring that they ultimately reject God and all that He is.
In response to telling Peter and John that they were not to speak of Jesus anymore, they are calm and direct. They make it clear that the true authoritative power in their lives in God’s and God’s alone. They are speaking on the things that are true and real and are not spreading anything that is false. They speak the truth and are not going to shy away from doing so regardless of what threats they may face.
Regardless of the rulers attempts to threaten them, they walked away still praising God along with those who had witnessed this amazing miracle. Opposition was strong and yet there still remained those who were faithful to God’s work and praised Him for His continual faithfulness in their lives.
Often times we may allow for opposition to hold us back from spreading our faith. It can be incredibly scary and intimidating but what we can learn from this passage is that God gives boldness and courage in the face of these hard times. It is His hand that is carrying us through and doing the work and we are merely His vessels carrying out His plan. Trust that God will grant you the right words and response during hard times and know that His Holy Spirit is powerful enough to save, convict and guide.
[Featured image from lds.org]