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Preparing For Persecution XII

 The early church didn’t set out looking to be persecuted, but persecution found them nonetheless. If you live your life according to the Gospel and obeying Jesus is your singular goal, in time, persecution will find you as well. Jesus said as much, and even though this present generation is doing its utmost to ignore that particular reality, pretending as though Jesus never said the things He did, eventually, His words in this regard will be proven true, as were all the other things He said.

At some point during Peter’s discourse, the powers that be realized they’d bitten off more than they could chew. They’d hoped this mock trial, because that’s what it was, would remedy the situation, Peter and John would be cowed, and they could go back to business as usual.

It’s not that they didn’t put effort into it. Arranging for an overnight trial in which the highest ruling religious class in the land would be in attendance was no small feat. Schedules had to be reorganized, meetings had to be canceled, and high-ranking individuals who were shown deference in all things had to be put out, all because two fishermen had performed a miracle they could not explain or hide from the public eye. At least, that’s how they saw it. They could not allow this to continue, and pressure had to be brought to bear.

They never once considered the substance of what Peter had said or allowed for the idea that he might be correct, and they’d crucified the Son of God, who later rose from the dead. They were too set in their ways for any of that, even with all the anecdotal evidence pointing to the veracity of Peter’s claims. They knew of the empty tomb; the once lame man was standing before them in full health; those responsible for his healing, at least in their eyes, were simple men of low status, yet their singular concern was how to keep the message of a risen Christ from spreading to the masses.

Acts 4:13-14, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.”

It’s not so much that they denied Jesus; they didn’t want to acknowledge Him. Jesus leaves a mark. You can’t be with Jesus and remain the same as you were before you knew Him. They realized they’d been with Jesus by the sheer fact that the things they said could not be said outside of some event taking place in Peter and John’s lives to make them more than the sum of all they’d been prior to it.

We have two guys who smell like fish, who are neither educated nor trained, yet here they stand, boldly declaring that save for the name of Jesus, there is no salvation in any other. Those who had put Peter and John on trial were astute enough to understand that it was not of themselves that they possessed such wisdom but that they had been with Jesus, and that makes all the difference. To complicate matters, the man who had been healed was standing with them, and as the adage goes, the proof is in the pudding.

In our modern age, we’ve somehow managed to disassociate from reality and pretend as though what we’re seeing really isn’t there, but they hadn’t mastered that particular skill during the time of the early church. The undeniable reality that two simple men were speaking profound truths and that a once lame man was standing before them was too much for those judging Peter and John to ignore or disregard.

Although we can’t draw any conclusions about John, we know that boldness was not characteristic of Peter. This man who now stood before the most influential people of his time and declared unequivocally that they had crucified Christ and that the lame man was healed by His name had denied Christ no less than three times months prior.

The source of their boldness was twofold. First, the presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit that they’d received in the upper room, and second, they’d sanctified the Lord God in their hearts, and would no longer be swayed by any external forces.

Acts 4:15-17, “But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, ‘What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.’”

Even though it was evident that a notable miracle had been done, and they could not deny it, not one of them desired to know the truth of it. Jesus, it turns out, was right again, and some people will not be persuaded even if someone was raised from the dead.

In the aggregate, it would be difficult to envision someone seeing another come back from the dead and not be moved to repentance, but here were men, admittedly religious, who’d just witnessed a bonafide miracle done to a man known to have been born lame from birth, and they were not moved. Their only concern was covering it up and preventing it from spreading any further among the people.

The gravy train must keep chugging forward, the biscuit wheels must remain on the track, and if they had to severely threaten men whom they knew to be innocent in order to achieve their goal, so be it.

One would think we’ve grown past such things, but the selfsame self-serving actions are being undertaken today in many churches, ministries, and denominations the world over. Men will ignore egregious sin in the lives of figureheads just to protect the brand, and anyone who would call it out is summarily ostracized and cast out. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Posted on 17 April 2024 | 11:27 am

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