A miraculous healing turned into an opportunity for the gospel, which resulted in persecution, which brought yet another gospel moment, resulting in threats, which compelled the Church into prayer, which brought an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the boldness they were seeking. All that took place in the 3rd and 4th chapters of Acts, and I find it all very fascinating. But there’s more to this story that catches my eye and my thoughts.
“While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: ‘Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?’“ Acts 3:11-12
“By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” Acts 3:16
Peter was adamant that only Jesus would get the recognition for what had taken place. He refused to be the star of the show, acknowledging that neither his own power, nor his own godliness was at work in the healing. Humanity, and it weaknesses and tendencies have not changed over the centuries. If I am not careful, I too can find myself looking for a hero in the men and women of faith around me. I could find myself watching God’s miracles take place, and assume that it had something to do with the power or godliness of the person through whom His power flowed. “Lord, remind me of the Name. The only Name that is to be lifted up in my heart.”
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
It’s like a lightbulb went on for the rulers, elders and teachers that Peter and John now stood before. They saw ordinary, unschooled men of courage standing before them, boldly proclaiming Christ to them. And then it dawned on them. These men had been with Jesus. The original wording of ‘been with’ means “to be privy to; to know”. Peter and John had not just “been around” Jesus, they had been with Him, they knew Him, and the rulers took note of that. “Lord, I want to be “with” You, I want to have that intimate knowledge of You, so that no matter who I am speaking to, regardless of their title or their station in life, I will speak with courage, boldly proclaiming Christ. Produce in me the courage that comes from being with You.”
“Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.'” Acts 4:18-20
They were compelled. Couldn’t help it. Had to do it. What have we seen and heard? What have we been witness to that needs to be proclaimed? “Lord, I want the “cannot help it” that was in Peter and John to be in me. I want to be compelled to speak of You, of Your wondrous works, of all that I have seen and heard.”
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:29
I find this amazing. They had been told not to speak the Name of Jesus anymore, and “after further threats”, they were let go. (v. 18-21) What is so wonderous to me is what they didn’t pray. They didn’t ask God to stop the threats, or strike down the ones making the threats. They didn’t ask for anything that would make it easier on them. They asked for boldness to do what they had been told not to do. Proclaim the Name. “Lord, put these kind of prayers in me. I want to be a woman who will not pray for whatever will make my life easier, but will pray for the boldness to do what You have called me to do. I don’t want to pray threats out, I want to pray boldness in.”
This was the Church being built by God. A place where the Name of Jesus is the only Name lifted high, where men are men, not heroes or superstars. It is in His Church that being “with” Him, knowing Him intimately, produces men and women of courage and boldness, who are compelled to speak of what they have seen and heard. Where both healings and persecution become opportunities for the gospel. The Church, made up of men and women who prayed for boldness rather than comfort. People to whom the Name of Christ is that important.
Beautiful, isn’t it? I want to see that beauty in the Church today. It’s there, because God is still building, I just need to open my eyes.