They brought in the two disciples and demanded, “By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people, are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed f or a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognised them as men who had been with Jesus. [NLT]Acts 4:7-13
The council members ask the two disciples about their power and authority for doing what they have done. “What is the power behind your actions? In whose name or authority have you done these things?” It is a curious question. It is not as though there is a feasible, logical answer to the question. The events lie outside of the human realm. What is curious is that the council ask by what authority Peter and John have done “these things”. To what things are they referring? Is it the healing of the lame man that is in their minds? If so, it is a strange question to ask in that context. It is clear the members of the council were not present in the crowd who were close to Peter when the lame man asked for “alms” and Peter replied, “I don’t have any silver or gold, but I’ll give you what I do have. In the name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, walk.” The Rulers and Elders have suddenly entered the action at the beginning of ‘Chapter 4’. They have clearly been informed about what has been going on. As I told you in earlier Gems, they have been informed that Peter (and John) have been teaching about resurrection from the dead. They are theologically driven to get involved but really don’t know what they are getting themselves into. They have missed Peter’s statement above and have missed his explanation of the event.
They missed Peter’s question:
“What is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has brought glory to His servant Jesus by doing this. This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release Him.”You rejected this holy, righteous One and instead demanded the release of a murderer.You killed the Author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!
“Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes. God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that He must suffer these things. Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.”Acts 3:12-19
So often if we come in part way through the action or a discussion, we miss some important context markers. Clearly the one(s) who reported to the council that Peter and John were talking about the resurrection left out some important, explicit background information. Read through the above italic statement again and weigh it up in the light of the question from the council. It is all so self evident isn’t it? It answers all of their questions but they were not made aware of this important information. Are they really asking about the healing? Or are they asking about the authority necessary for Peter to be teaching as he was? In making the question about the healing, the council are backing themselves into a corner. The record of the prophets made it clear that Messiah would come to heal the sick, deliverance for those bound, release for the captives and restoration and salvation for all of God’s people. It just depends how those things are interpreted. Are they limited to earthly realms or are they to be interpreted in a wider setting? A heavenly setting, ushering in the Kingdom of God?
What is the power behind this action? It is Divine power straight from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What is the name or authority behind this action? Peter makes the answer to that question quite clear. Don’t look at us as we are not responsible for making this man walk by our own power or godliness. Many believed then and believe now that healings happen(ed) by virtue of the spirituality or godliness of the person praying or performing some sort of spiritual ritual. Peter makes it clear that was (and is) not the case. This is happening because God is at work by His Holy Spirit. Oh, you want a name do you? The question “by what this one has been healed” is referring back to the name or the authority requested. You want to know who is behind this activity do you? Sure, I will tell you.
It’s Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It’s faith and trust in His name that has healed this man. Do you remember Him?
He is the Holy and Righteous One you rejected and handed over for crucifixion despite Pilate judging Him to be innocent of your charges. You bear the responsibility for killing Him but God has raised Him from the dead. This man has been healed through faith in the Name of Jesus. Faith in Jesus has healed him before your very eyes. Notice the repetition. Peter rams home the power of the answer to the query on the name or authority. Leaders, don’t miss the point. You want to know the authority and the power behind us? It is none other than Jesus, the Messiah from Nazareth.
Did you notice an important little phrase used? “before your very eyes” – this statement was made to the council. The honoured rulers and elders of our people. No, I don’t believe Peter was using the honorific ironically or in a derogatory way. He was giving them their rightful place. That is what they were. He was being sincere. But the four words, “before your very eyes” reveals something interesting. The high priests and rulers, teachers of the law and Sadducees had been present in the temple at the time of the healing! Peter reminds them that they knew how crippled this man had been. They saw him every day. No, they didn’t need any verification of the man’s healing. It happened before their eyes but they must have left quickly before Peter and John began preaching. Remember some time had elapsed through the afternoon before it came to the close of the day around 6.00 pm. Suddenly they were called back to the scene because Peter and John were now preaching about the resurrection. The fact that Jesus had been raised to life and its significance for all of them and us. That is what had pushed the council’s button to cause them to return to the scene.
What was it that highlighted Peter’s boldness? Well, look at the statements made which I have quoted above. Peter’s comments are directed toward the leaders, the Council themselves and their culpability in Jesus’ crucifixion. But not only that, he is making it very clear where their authority comes from. It is through the Name of Jesus. Despite the fact that resurrection was a “dirty word”, Peter tells them God raised Jesus from the dead according to the prophecies written in the book from which you leaders teach. Now repent of your sin and turn to God so that your sin might be wiped away.
To appreciate the full impact of Peter’s preaching you will have to go back to read what I wrote in covering the Lazarus story in Luke 16. [Gems 1072 to 1084] (At this stage you will have to wait until I can post the Gems on Luke on the new website.) Do you see the parallels? The sick man (therefore a sinner in the eyes of the Pharisees and Sadducees) was a man they knew well. A sick man they saw every day. One whom they despised because his sickness evidenced the fact he was a sinner. Now Peter is telling them, they are sinners and need to repent. This is the same Peter who ran away from a servant girl who said publicly Peter had been with Jesus. But this is a Peter filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. THIS IS NOT THE SAME PETER, YET IT IS.
The remarkable thing at this stage is that the council do nothing. They simply marvel. Marvel at what? I wonder if they are marvelling at the change in Peter. I am sure the council recognised they were dealing with a different Peter. This time he is not slinking away in defeat. He is standing there in their face and making their part in this very clear. Furthermore, he is challenging their view of themselves as righteous and holy men of God, by confronting them with their own sin and daring to tell them they need to repent. What a turn around. And in all of this, John is still silent. The council are silent too. They don’t address the impudence of this man before them, neither do they challenge his claims about resurrection. They don’t call the lame man to testify nor any other witnesses, simply because they don’t want it to be about healing. To make it about healing only highlights God’s involvement because Peter has made it clear it is not about us or any power of holiness we may possess. It’s about God fulfilling prophecy and glorifying the Name of Jesus. You would think they would protest as they did when Jesus invoked the Name, but they don’t. They remain silent.
There is a lot more to come but this Gem has grown again. I will close and leave the matter hanging in the air. Time once more for you to do some work in gathering the pieces together.
Pleasure in unrighteousness is always deeper than ignorance as the root of unbelief.John Piper
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.Martin Luther King
At my lowest God is my Hope. At my darkest God is my Light. At my weakest God is my Strength. At my point of need God is my Source.Anon
Peace is not the absence of trouble; it’s the presence of His power. Peter now knew that experientially through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Do you?Ian Vail