Although I am a pretty confident person, the strangest things manage to unsettle or unnerve me…Acts 3 and 4 are not just the story of Peter and John healing a man. That in itself is an astounding story. It is the rest of the story, however, that builds my faith and my hunger for the Holy Spirit….
It must have been infuriating for the Jewish Sanhedrin.
They had for years been able to keep their Jewish followers under control and preserve their culture the best way they knew how….with a lot of expectations, rituals, rules, traditions and laws and a whole lot of people to enforce them. Although they were under Roman rule they had worked out a system that worked in their favour and enabled them to maintain their power. If someone were to revolt or resist, they had the power to have him killed. A man has been healed. They know this man. He is the one, who for years has simply sat outside the Gate Beautiful and begged for a few coins bur today ….he is leaping and screaming and shouting. Next thing Peter and John are yelling over the crowd and explaining that this healing is because of Jesus…..the same Jesus who had been crucified…but it is when they start preaching resurrection heresy that the Saducees get upset. THere men must be silenced. These men needed to be reined in. What astounds them is their courage, their boldness. For two fishermen/ordinary uneducated men they speak with wisdom, and authority and words that cold very quickly demand a following. Jesus who is dead and buried is continuing to gain a following that has the Sadducees concerned enough to bring these men before the high court of the Sanhedran….
think about it. the very same men who had put Jesus to death…the same court the same accusers. BUT Peter and John seem unphased by the fact that they too could be facing trial just as Jesus did and that these men could have them crucified. Eeither they were speaking up for the one they had seen unjustly crucified or they were willing to face death because of Him. The Sadducees had power but these men had something more powerful. The ‘Jesus problem was meant to just go away but it hasn’t’ . Instead hundreds and thousands rise up in His place with the same spirit….Bold, courageous and able to heal. they are making claims about the resurrection and doing so with no fear. These Sadducees have managed to create a culture of fear and intimidation but these men were not afraid or intimidated and have the power to mess with a system that up until now has worked.
How like the enemy to use religion and control to intimidate and attempt to shut these men down. Peter and John hsow us how the the Holy Spirit helps us deal with intimidation. In the face of power they had the Spirit of power. The Spirit of Power helps combat a spirit of fear and powerlessness. We can expect that when we step out in faith and offer the love and grace of God to those who need it, the spirit of intimidation is at work to shut us down and put us back where he wants us, quiet and ordinary and paralyzed. The enemy doesn’t want us reproducing the power of Christ.
The stand out for me in this story is not the courage they had to pray for the sick but the courage and authority they had in the face of the ‘authorities’. It is the aftermath of courage that requires courage and the Holy Spirit has been given to us himself for BOTH.
1 Timothy 2:7 ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity but love, power and a sound mind’
I was on a missions trip a couple of years ago and was chosen to be the first preacher at the very first meeting. After a sleepless 12 hour trip we were heading into an intense 10 days of ministry in Saba, Malaysia. I found out just before the service that I was to be the speaker and that the meeting was a gathering of a multi-denominational leaders from all over the city, including a number of churches that did not believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I can easily feel intimidated when I feel like I must be guarded. It was the first time I was to preach with an interpreter and I was second guessing the message I wanted to preach but I felt absolutely no fear and 100 % passion. As I watched that altar fill with people at the end of the service and saw people get set free that night, I knew it was not me in the ordinary but Jenny full of the Holy Spirit. I don’t always face off with my own Sadducees with this sort of confidence and trust, but I want to trust God for this type of response in my own heart more often. I want to be able to face off with ANY form of intimidation, control of manipulation, irrespective of where it comes from. Whether it is as a mum or a leader, a pastor or a friend..I want to feel the passion and fearless trust in the Spirit of power. I don’t want to face off with my sadducees just when I am in the pulpit. I want to recognise them in every context of my life…I recognise the spirit of intimidation before it has the capacity to parlyse me.