“Taking the Witness Stand”, is one sermon in a series our church staff is launching off of the NBC telecast A.D. the Bible Continues. The Scriptural reference is Acts 4:18-20
If you remember the story….
After the experience the disciples had in the upper room with the baptism in the Holy Spirit something inside of them changed. Before the baptism in the Holy Spirit the disciples were men and women filled with fear, not knowing what to do. Peter had denied Christ three times at the scene of Christ’s trial and all the others had been so afraid they had not even shown up at the hearing. But after the baptism in the Holy Spirit something was different about them! They had a new boldness. They had a new sense of passion, a new understanding of the mission. They began to preach and teach the message about Jesus every day in the Temple courts and from house to house.
In Acts chapter 3 a spectacular miracle of healing is recorded that causes the disciples and their message to be catapulted to new levels of fame among the Jewish people. In a very short span of time the church grows from 3,000 to 5,000 souls.
Wanting to quell the rising tide of revival the rulers of the Temple have Peter and John, the ringleaders of the Jesus circus, arrested. However, not having any valid charges to hold them on they prepare to release them And that is where our Scripture passage this morning picks up the story…
Acts 4: 18-20 New International Version (NIV)
18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
I don’t know about you but if I had been Peter and John I think I could have come up with a better response than that.
I could have:
Abandoned the message and just gone back to fishing because this was not what I signed up for.
Just told the men what they wanted to hear. I could have said something like, “As you wish gentlemen. We’ll stop.” Then I would have gone out and done the exact opposite of what I promised.
Tried to negotiate the message. I could have said,“Well what if we include the Kadosh and some really strong teaching about the 10 commandments in all our lectures? How about if we share time? We can share our message but give you a platform during the service as well?”
I am sure that all of these responses presented themselves to the rational minds of Peter and John in those moments. They were after all men just like you and me. But in those moments they chose not to take any of these options. Instead they openly defied the Sanhedrin and said “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen or heard.”
You see they understood something about the life they were now living. Jesus was not just an addition to the 10 commandments. Jesus was not a new fad in the Jewish religion. They understood It was not Jesus and the Law. They realized when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit that Jesus was the Law. He was the One the prophets proclaimed. Everything in the Old Testament was pointing to Him. They understood that everything in history was His Story. Jesus was their foundation. They understood that without Jesus there was nothing to believe in because Jesus had become their foundation and today I would put to you that