In today’s first lesson, we find the Apostles – Peter and John – in “hot water” with the religious leaders (the priests, the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees) because they were “teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” (v. 2) Through this teaching and proclamation, literally thousands and thousands of people were coming to faith in Jesus! No doubt, the priests didn’t want Peter and John infringing on their “territory” – the temple; the captain of the temple guard didn’t want any “trouble” with the crowds like there had been when Jesus was preaching and teaching there; and the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead so they argued against it being taught by anyone!
The leaders demanded of the Apostles, “By what power or what name did you do this?” (v. 7) They were asking how Peter and John had healed a man who had been crippled since the time of his birth (cf. Acts 3: 1-10). This questioning provided the perfect “opening” for the gospel! To their question, Peter, filled by the Holy Spirit answered, “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you completely healed. Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (vs. 10-12) The “proof” was standing before their very eyes – the crippled man was now whole!
The enemies of Jesus and His gospel jailed the Apostles and further threatened them with severe punishment if they continued to speak in the name of Jesus. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Peter and John knew that they must obey God rather than men (v. 19) and they boldly and confidently responded, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (v. 20).
Their lives had been touched – forever changed – by Jesus, their Savior, the Good Shepherd. The Holy Spirit helped them to remember what Jesus had told them, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me – and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen, I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10: 11-16)
Sisters and Brothers in Christ, Jesus has called us, too, to be the sheep of His pasture. He is our Good Shepherd. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we believe that He was raised from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins, and now He calls us to boldly and confidently proclaim salvation in His name in the same way that Peter and John did. But too often fear, pressure and persecution keep us quiet. Our reluctance becomes a “roadblock” to our joyful gospel proclamation.
Jesus forgives our sins and our fear to be His spokespersons! He gives us the power to be His disciples. As there was for Peter and John, so today there is power for us in Jesus name; in His Word; and in the sacraments.
In that power we are forgiven and free. Like the Apostles, “We Cannot Help Speaking” to, for and about Jesus!
See you in church THIS weekend!
Blessings in Christ,