No, this isn’t a tribute to a popular song by the late Tom Petty.
“If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”Acts 4:9-12, New King James Version
I absolutely love this passage. Found in the book of the Bible following the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), we see the Christian Church born and beginning to thrive. Easter is over, Jesus has risen and appeared to hundreds, has ascended into Heaven, and the Holy Spirit has been given to those who believe in Christ.
In this particular passage of Scripture, Peter and John are under attack by the religious leaders for healing someone. They are questioned, and here we have Peter’s witty and bold response to the Jewish leaders. This same Peter who recently denied Christ three times after His arrest, is boldly proclaiming Him.
The leaders are at a total loss at this point. They thought when they nailed Jesus to a cross, all of this radical nonsense would end. That the region would eventually go back to business as usual. That those who followed Jesus would fade away into the crowd. They were hugely mistaken. We read in just the first few chapters of Acts, that thousands were being added to the growing list of new crowd called “Christians.”
“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.” So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.”Acts 4:18-22
Not sure what to do at this point, the Jewish leaders “severely threaten” Peter and John, to stop preaching and telling others about their personal experiences with Jesus. The Bible doesn’t say exactly what the threats were, but since these were the same leaders that just executed an innocent Man because they felt threatened by Him, my guess is they threatened the lives of Peter and John before releasing them.
Peter tells the leaders plainly that they can’t help but tell others what they have seen. If you read my previous post, The Risen King, this further adds to the credibility that Christ did indeed rise from the dead. No person, no matter how brave they are, would continue to preach a lie once threatened with their own life. Peter is telling the very same men who crucified Jesus and had others commit perjury and testify against Him, that no matter what they threatened him with, he would continue preaching what he believed to be the Truth!
And he does. He will eventually become a martyr, but not before the gospel message of Jesus Christ continues to spread like a California wildfire. Thousands of souls are saved, despite imprisonment, threats, repeatedly being beaten, and eventually killed.
Persecution of the Church and Christians isn’t something new. But make no mistake; the Church thrives under persecution. If the world hated Christ when He was on this earth, and then hated His followers more than two thousand years ago, why would one expect anything different in 2022?