We see the disciples in this section of scripture being interrogated by the Jewish leaders of their time over the healing of a man born a cripple. Through the power of the name of Jesus he was healed and this was witnessed by a great many people.
Peter and John then used this as an opportunity to speak the words of the gospel to the thousands of people, and this upset the chief priests. The disciples were imprisoned over night and we now see the trial of the disciples as the chief priests and leaders decide what they will do.
The responses of the disciples is important, not just for them but for us too as it gives us guidance of how we are to also act when brought to account for the name of The Lord.
The chief priests had a dilemma. They recognised that a significant and undeniable miracle had occurred at the hands of the disciples, and yet they did not want to admit it for fear of losing their power. The disciples were preaching Jesus and it was through his name that the man had been healed. The healing was undeniable proof of the power of the name of Jesus.
And yet it was these same leaders who only a few months earlier had put Jesus to death. They probably thought that the thorn in their side was dead and gone with the death of Jesus. They did not understand that it was necessary for Him to die for the salvation of mankind, and that His death was not the end, but the beginning of the New Covenant age.
The miraculous sign performed by the disciples could not be denied and it was proof that the teachings the disciples were speaking in the name of Jesus were the words of God. As The Lord stated when He commissioned the disciples, He would bear witness to the truth of gospel by the signs attending the word. Thus the leaders at the time had the dilemma that they could not deny. It was clear that this healing was indeed the work of God.
Who do You Listen To?
The chief priests threatened the disciples telling them not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore. They had hoped to stem the flow of the knowledge of Jesus by ordering the disciples and threatening them to stop speaking the word of God.
But the response from the disciples and the boldness of Peter showed they would not yield to threats of violence or any such thing, but would continue to speak the words of the gospel and in the name of Jesus. They said in verses 19-20,
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.”
There was no way they were going to stop. They knew the source of the words and the power that was at work here and they had been commissioned by Jesus to do this work and to take the gospel of salvation to the world. No threats against their persons was about to change their minds and give them pause in their assigned task.
In the same way, we must also make a decision about who we listen to. Are we listening to the voice of God or the voices of men? Are we prepared to make a stand for The Lord as the disciples did that day under such pressure from the leaders of the Jews?
Paul, Peter and John wrote the following verses, and there are others too, that show us we too shall suffer similar persecutions, trials and the hatred of the people of this world. We must remember so that we are able to stand and not be surprised when it happens.
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. (1 John 3:13)
Our lot as Christians is to suffer. But it is also through suffering by listening to the voice of The Lord and of God that we grow stronger. We learn from our sufferings to hold fast to the word of God. We learn to rely not on our own strength, but the strength and the power of God for we know that He will rescue us from all sufferings and all trial, as Peter said,
“…the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9)
And our reward for holding fast to the faith and listening to the voice of The Lord is eternal salvation in His kingdom, and peace, joy and fellowship with Him now.
The Voice of God
Listen to the voice of God. It is important to hear and know His voice and to separate it from the myriad voices around us that would lead us astray.
How will you recognise His voice? He will make it known. Listen to the words for the words of God come to us through many ways. They come via scripture, teaching, dreams and visions and the Holy Spirit will provide discernment as to what is true and what is not.
Just as Jesus taught us that we would be able to discern false teachers from those who speak the truth, the voice of God can be discerned in the same way. Jesus said you will know them by their fruit. The fruit of a teacher is first seen in the way they live their life. Any teacher who lives to gratify themselves or to gain self-glory rather than seeking the glory of God needs to be closely watched. It is those who seek self that are not holding to the truth for they are not giving glory to God.
Another test is to listen to what is being said. Jesus came to call us to freedom. He has set us free from sin and set us free from the law. Anyone who is preaching or teaching a message that will bring you into bondage by calling you a sinner or telling you that you are under the law is not speaking the truth of the New Covenant. Beware for they will sap your life in Jesus Christ and drag you back into chains. They may even be seeking to take advantage of you for this is one of the ways that man takes advantage of his fellow man. They tie them up in law so that they obey them rather than the voice of God, which is what the chief priests had hoped to do with the disciples. They wanted them to listen to their words rather than the freedom of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And as the disciples rejected the threats of the priests in their day, we too must reject anything that would take away our freedom in Jesus Christ today. Listen to God. Find the voice of God that brings peace and freedom and do not succumb to the ways and voices of this world, especially those of false religion.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Andrea Kratzenberg)
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