These are the words of Peter and John as they stood before many of the same accusers who killed Jesus just weeks earlier. Rulers and elders of the Jewish community looking for a reason to quiet the witness of these two disciples. The message of these two men was a threat to the authority and thereby the very existence of the accusing council. The reason was simple, Peter and John taught in the name of a ‘risen’ Jesus Christ, our Lord. If He be risen from a grave which they had put Him in, then this proved His claims of being the Messiah, the very Son of God. He was Lord and had legitimate claim to the worship, honor and allegiance which threatened the ascendancy of this group. A council which would stop at nothing, including murder, to further their reach for power.
Without concern for their own welfare, here stood these two ‘uneducated, common men’ astonishing this powerful group. How? Scripture give us this reason, they spoke with boldness and everyone recognized that they had been with Jesus. Wow, what an example for the New Testament church today.
Jesus’ last earthly words to His disciples was an admonition to be witnesses for Him. Here is the first recorded persecution for that witness. How did they respond and what was their preparation for it. The book of Acts records it all for us. Chapter 2 says they devoted themselves to three things, sound doctrine, biblical fellowship with one another and true worship of the Triune God. It’s interesting that what is not recorded is their devotion to witnessing and evangelism. Chapter 4 records that evangelism and witness was a natural, unavoidable result of being with Jesus and reflecting His person and finished work. It is what happens when we find ourselves so immersed in and so in love with our risen Lord. We can’t help ‘but speak of the things we have seen and heard’. If they had devoted themselves to proclaiming something or someone whom they did not know intimately they would have become a poor witness, which in this writer’s opinion is worse than no witness.
Don’t misunderstand me, scripture, through the very words and actions of Jesus Himself, teaches us of a needed compassion and passion for evangelism of the lost. However, it becomes the natural outgrowth of spiritual maturation in our experience, knowledge and understanding of God’s grace towards us, sinners undeserving of any favor. It is when we find ourselves not only saved by the grace of God at the cross of Christ but sustained in our daily walk by that same grace, that we jump for joy as the beggar standing beside Peter and John at their inquisition. ( Read the story for yourself in Acts 3 and 4.)
Let us commit ourselves to sound doctrine, biblical fellowship and proper worship and then proclaim with the apostles, “we can but speak of the things we have seen and heard”.
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
soli deo gloria