And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
But you have to take your Bibles to the book of acts. Chapter four. As we returned to our series, the spirit at work to the ends of the earth. I did not get the page number. There is a Bible there and your pew, if you, uh, want this a table of contents at the beginning, you can look there to find we’re looking at the book of acts and the new Testament chapter four.
I’m going to read quickly through these first 22 verses. And as they were speaking to the people, the priest and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them greatly. Because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus, the resurrection from the dead, and they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day for it was already evening.
But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about 5,000 on the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes gathered around together in Jerusalem with Annas, the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander and all who wrote the high priest family. And when they had set them in the mid stay inquired by what power or by what name do you do this?
Then Peter filled with the holy spirit said to them, rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today, concerning a good deed done by to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, but the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead by him.
This man is standing before. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you. The builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation and no one else for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. And when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated common men, they were astonished and they recognized that they had been with Jesus, but seeing the man who was sealed, standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition, but when they commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another saying, what should we do with these men for this, for that?
A notable sign has been performed through them as evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name. So they called them and charge them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
But Peter and John answered them, whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge for, we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard. And when they had further threatened them and let them go finding no way to punish them because of the people for all were praising God for what had happened for the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than 40 years old for a full understanding of the early church we really should have in our hands.
The book of acts in one hand and the book of revelation in our other, the reason for that is they give different perspectives on what is happening. Particularly the part of the book, which we begin here in chapter four, where opposition is beginning to come to the early church in the book of acts. We see all of the human opposition that is going to be formed against the early church.
But in the book of revelation, we see this picture of a history old opposition that is actually being unleashed by the powers of darkness, the devil himself, and his emissaries. That is an old bling and empowering this opposition that we see in the book of acts done by people. And so we see behind the curtain, what is empowering this opposition in the book of revelation we see here in the book of acts, the actual human activity.
Of that opposition in acts chapter one through three, we have the account of the spirit of God pouring his power down upon the early church of the day of Pentecost and the result in growth and transformation that has taken place. But here in chapter four, a transition occurs here. If we bring that slide up, we might depict this in the star wars terminology chapters.
One through three are a new hope chapters. Four through seven is the empire striking back. It is the power of darkness being unleashed in chapters four through seven. And chapter four is the beginning of that opposition. We’ll see it manifest in different ways. This is the first time we’re going to see the religious leaders actually taking on the disciples.
The followers of Jesus central in all of the conflict is Jesus Christ. The reputation, the name of Jesus Christ, the work of Jesus Christ that is being unleashed through his followers and disciples. All of the opposition and vitriol against the church is ultimately aimed at Jesus through the powers against him.
Everything is ultimately about Jesus in these chapters, out of there, out of allegiance to him out of dependence on him and in seeking to honor him, the church is going forward with their messaging and their work. We find that in all of the preaching in the early chapter, well actually through the whole book, it’s focused on Jesus Christ.
Peter’s now in his third sermon, we’re going to see it’s a short one here in chapter four, all three. Our centering about Jesus Christ. They’re talking about him continually addressing people with the refrain and all of these sermons, this guy that you kelp God raised from the dead and is actually the one that is empowering us to do the things and to say the things that we are doing over 5,000 here in chapter four, are responding to an event that has just occurred.
And chapter three, we had the event of the crippled man who had been crippled for his entire life. He’s now in his forties, he has been seated in the taverns, excuse me, in the temple structure known by just about anybody that went in there because he’s there apparently daily. And Peter has been given the power of the holy spirit, reaches out his hand, and this man has been raised and is jumping around the temple area.
Obvious attention to his new found ability to walk. The result of that is people have gathered all around Peter and they have listened to his sermon as he has preached about Jesus and the power of Jesus Christ. Now in chapter four, we see the aftermath of that. And there’s two aftermaths. Number one, there has been astonishing result of people embracing Jesus as their own savior.
And Lord says 5,000 men. Most people think it was it’s particularly said gender wise to say there were 5,000 men and many other children and women, a large multitude of people have believed on Christ. But at the same time we read in these verses in verses one through four of acts, chapter four, At the religious leaders now finally cannot just dismiss what is going on.
There’s too much happening. And so they have grabbed Peter and John and the crippled man who actually is clinging to them and have arrested them now with the purpose of throwing him in determinately into jail, but just to hold them overnight, because early the next morning, they’re going to have a council of the Sanhedrin together.
So we come now in chapter four and verses follow five and following to hear what Peter said to them and basically what he presented. Is the in comparable illness of Jesus Christ, his matchless Snus, and there are three particular things that he’s going, we see in this passage. The first of those is that Jesus displays extraordinary powers.
If you look in this passage, the scene, and if he can just bring up that slide, that has a picture of the temple again, and I forgot my cool laser pointer. Um, the temple is there in the middle of the temple itself, around that as the very large courtyard where everyone could go, including the Gentiles, literally thousands of people squash into that during feast days.
But if you’ll notice over to the far left, there is a red roofed building, long hall, actually Portico that is called the Royer protocol Portico. That is where the Sanhedrin and other religious groups of Judaism would gather. And this is probably where they were taking. Underneath in the front section where the wall is of the, of Jerusalem under that is where Solomon’s Portico was, which is where they, and I mentioned that before, that’s actually where they met for their meeting, and now they’ve been arrested and held overnight.
And they’re going to be talking there in the Royal Portico before the 71 Sanhedrin, as they come in, Peter is going to be the one that is addressing them. And there’s going to be in this scene, two evidences of the power of the living Christ. The first of those exhibit a is the formerly crippled man. And he is there before them.
And it’s interesting. Nobody ever says to him, how do we know this guy was actually. And how do we know this? Isn’t just some sham, you know, there’s some Charlotte, any you guys that well, they knew because for 40 years, this guy had been sitting there at least many years. They all knew him. Probably many of the Sanhedrin knew him by name.
Certainly they knew him by sight and the seventh, the Sanhedrin was a group of 71 leaders of, of Israel. It describes them as rulers, uh, and leader, rulers and elders. And teachers of the law, the rulers are talking about the, the family of the high priest, the former high priest Anissa’s there. His son-in-law who’s the current high priest Caiaphas is there, there are other family members that are, there are of the priestly family.
Other priests would be there. Then there are the rulers, these are the individuals that would be a part of the ruling elite of Israel. But then there is also the elders and these would be individuals that were probably the senior members of clans. These were the mucky muck, uh, people of Israel that were a part of this group.
And there they are brought in, and this is, uh, where this guy is in the midst of them. And the first thing they’re confronted with this, they, yeah, he’s healed. But the second thing that strikes one about the extraordinary power of the living Christ is exhibit B. It is the unschooled fishermen themselves.
We see this in verse 13. Here’s what it says in verse 13 of, of acts chapter four now, and this is after Peter speaks. Now, when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that there were uneducated common men, they were astonished. I said, what in the world? Where did these guys get disability?
The word, um, unschooled is actually the word that literally means no letters or without letters. They had no degrees. They had no training. It doesn’t mean they couldn’t read, but it does mean that they had no formal training. And there were very extensive formal training schools in rabbinical schools in Jerusalem.
One of those is taught by chameleons actually at this time, Paul now saw is in this school being trained by chameleon. It’s possible. At the later apostle Paul presently saw is in this group that is in the room. That may how be how Luke knew all about the discussion. If not chameleon, his instructor clearly is he’s identified as being on the Sanhedrin.
And he would have told Paul, who would have told Luke about what was the individual conversations that went on, but as they’re there, they are struck with these men. And I think there’s two reasons they’re struck. First of all, they’re just struck with the fact that they’re obviously commoners they’re fishermen.
They have no formal training. And yet they’re teaching the Sanhedrin biblical truth in such a way that they absolutely confront them with statements. They’re saying, yeah, this, this man, Jesus, this one that you want to know who did the power to heal this, this good work of healing, this man, it was Jesus Christ who you crucified.
And who God raised from the dead that’s who healed him. They’re struck with the fact that they don’t have schooling training. They’re common men, but they’re also struck with that because these religious leaders actually knew one of these disciples. If you look, and I think we’re going to bring it up.
John chapter 18, there was an interesting passage where John is talking. He always talks about himself, uh, in, in the third person. He says, since that disciple and he’s, this is when Jesus has been arrested. Since that disciple was known to the high priest. John is talking about himself. He entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside of the door.
So the other disciple who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watching door and brought Peter in. John somehow is not only known, but he’s known well among the high priest, because he knows the household people and he’s able to Peter’s locked out, which is where John should be.
But he gets in because he has the creds of relationship. Maybe he’s, there’s a, maybe there’s a familial relationship. I don’t know. Maybe there is just his father, even though they’re there, they’re just fishermen. Maybe he’s a wealthy fishermen and somehow he’s given enough money to the temple that he’s known, but he’s known it’s interesting in John’s gospel.
He says all these intricate details when he gets into the courtyard, he says at one point, and he says, I’m the guy who was the brother of the man that John, that Peter cut the ear off is the one that confronted Peter and said you were with him there in the, in the garden. Well, Hey John know all it, he knows these people.
This is awesome. Picture of these religious leaders are sitting there and they’re thinking, look at John. I mean, we know this guy, he’s just a fisherman. He’s not a preacher. He’s not a train. He has no schooling. He has no rabbinical background. He’s not a priest. He’s just a guy, a guy we know. And you listened to him.
There was a boldness. There is a, the confidence that these men express that is unexplainable. There is a power and Liberty in the holy spirit. That is not their own. It’s the fire of God’s spirit. It’s not training or personality. It is simply the spirit of God empowering his children to speak for him.
You see whether you have a pH PhD like Paul. Or you have a GED like Peter, whether you are an MD like Luke or you’re the result of PTSD post-Trump yeah. PTA like Mary of Magdalene. It doesn’t matter in the power of the spirit of God. God is God’s voice that is speaking through these men. And these religious leaders are stunned because they see in them something that is not explainable except by the statement.
And they recognized these guys had been with Jesus. Jesus had told them he would do this for them in Luke 12, 12. He made this statement when you are brought before synagogues, rulers, and authorities, don’t worry about what, how you will defend yourselves or what you will say for the holy spirit will teach you at that time, what you should say in Luke 21, verse 15, but make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves for, I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict what made their words.
So powerful was first the boldness with which they spoke. But I would suggest there was a second thing that absolutely struck them. It was what they said. These guys didn’t teach about rules, laws, commandments, how to do spiritual life. They didn’t talk about rules. They talked about resurrection. They talked about a living Christ that brought a living transforming power, and those that sought to silence them were silenced.
They actually have to have them leave the room. They don’t know what to say. They escort them out. The first thing we see that is declared that shows the matchless Snus of Christ is the extraordinary powers that are his. Secondly, it is Jesus declaring exclusive claims in verses eight through 12. Paul goes on to give this description of Christ and then summarizes it with one of the most remarkable statements of the new Testament.
I would suggest you, it is one of the most offensive statements in a secular world. It is this statement in verse two. And there is salvation in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Peter has already said in chapter three, that this Jesus is now gone is alive.
And what he is currently doing is Risto preparing to restore all things. He’s talking about heaven and how, how he will come to and, and, and restore the earth and the heavens. And it will be a paradise in the entire cosmos for God’s people to dwell in. That’s all involved. When he says this salvation all will be delivered.
It’s not just individual salvation. It’s talking about this salvation that I’ve been talking to you about is only found in one place in one person, it is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ who has raised this man from his lame state. He is saying to them, everything is going to be made right.
One day in Jesus, but then he gets really extensive and he says, there’s no other name, no other name under heaven. Given among men whereby a person can experience this salvation that there’s no option B there’s no second curtain. It’s Christ. Now this was offensive in a unique way for the Jews. They didn’t appreciate this because he’s implying that, that their Messiah is going to be everybody’s Messiah that he is the savior of all peoples.
They’d be happy to have the Gentiles have their guy. I mean, obviously be a less guy than we’ve got, but what they, what he is saying, no, he is the one that brings salvation deliverance to all. But I would suggest to you, this verse is not only offensive to them. It is tremendously offensive in our day, in a day, which we will later see in acts 19.
When Paul is preaching at Athens, it will be very offensive because the Roman world was a pluralistic world as is ours. It means there are plural ways towards God, plural, acceptable ways. In our days, there is, it is viewed as. As very offensive, extremely troubling in a trouble in a pluralistic world to say there is one way to God.
I would guess almost all of you. Who’ve had a conversation where somebody said meat for me, the struggle with Christianity. I don’t like the fact that you talk about exclusivity as if you have the only faith that works. I mean, what about Muslims and Buddhists and Jews and, and countless other religions.
I mean, it’s okay for you to say Jesus is your way to God. He’s a way, but he’s not the way. Well, I, I just want to play that out for a few minutes. Okay. So it is okay for me to have Jesus be my way to God. Really it’s okay for me to embrace Jesus. Who said I am the way the truth and the life, nobody comes to the father, but through me, it’s okay for me to believe in Jesus, who said he’s coming to judge the living and the dead it’s okay.
For me to believe and embrace Jesus who says before Abraham was, which was a thousand years back from this time before Abraham existed, I existed. He’s declaring eternal state for himself. It’s okay. I can believe in a Jesus who accepted clear public declaration declarations that he himself was God. And that people that did not believe in him and, and, and vociferously rejected him were actually doing because their father was the devil to say, it’s okay to believe in him.
Who said no one comes to do the father, but through me, Jesus claim. What no other religion claims he claims this exclusivity. Now you may say, well, he’s wrong. Well, that’s fine.
But the reality is in Christianity, there is a declaration of exclusivity that is unique in its exhaustive. Venice, no other religious leader makes the claims that Jesus did tell you. Hiko Kagawa was a believer of about a century ago, a wonderful Japanese believer. He wrote a series of letters that had been put together in a volume called living out Christ’s love.
He was a very socially engaged, uh, born again, believer, uh, that a lot for the name of Christ during his generation in Japan. In his, uh, personal autobiography, he talks about his coming to Jesus. Here’s what he said. He said, I am grateful to Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism. I owe much to these faiths, but they could not meet me at the moment of my heart’s deepest needs.
I was a Pilgrim journeying on a long journey that had no turning. I was weary. I was footsore. I wandered through a dark and dismal world where tragedies were thick. Buddhism teaches great compassion. But since the beginning of time, who has ever said of himself, this is my covenant for the forgiveness of sins, Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius never said such things.
What he’s arguing is that Jesus Christ makes claims like no one else. Jesus Christ said. In me, I am providing a new covenant and it offers you eternal forgiveness for your sins. And Kagawa says, who does that one person, one individual that claims an exclusive pathway to God. If he is not the son of God, he is frankly, greatly inferior to those other teachers.
He’s either diluted or intensely devious, or he is God. He is raised from the dead. He is the creator of the cosmos he has existed for all eternity. Every living, being angels, demons, humans will appear and bow before him. One day, these are all claims he made. If this is who, if, who he is claimed to be, and he chose to offer himself in behalf of sinners to secure their forgiveness, then he is the one way to God.
If he is this person, he is, it is a logical conclusion. Here’s a ago, back to another basketball illustration. I moved down my junior year of high school and went to cherry hill high school east, and I was on their basketball team. And. I was the sixth or seventh, man. I may have been the seventh man. I choose to remember it as the sixth man, which meant, which meant you are the first person to go in the game.
And we had a decent team, but our first game was an away game at Camden high school Camden high school at the time had not only the best team in the state, they had one of the better teams in the United States that was not true of cherry hill high school east at the time. And we arrived for our game and I, it was my first game.
I’m very nervous. You know, I’m trying to get to know the guys I’ve been an unknown. Nobody even knew me until trial to just come and I’ve taken guys spots, you know, and, and I, and, and I’m getting playing time and they’ve grown up together and I’m the newbie. And I remember sitting on the bench. Actually the first thing that happened just to give you the total scenario, we pulled into the parking lot at Canon high school.
And for some reason, all our coaches went in to find out where to park or something and they left us there. And I remember sitting in the bus when a sea of students, hundreds of them, maybe thousands, I don’t remember exactly, literally are pushing our bus. Do you know, a school bus can sway? It can sway.
And we, we were so psyched. I leased Iowa. I was so psyched out by the time I got out of this bus, what is happening? So we went in and we had one of those. If you’ve played ball, you know, you have these, these moments we were being mauled destroyed. It was, you know, it was one of those like 25 to four first quarters.
And you just want to say this can’t be happening. And I know that I’m going in very. And there was a girl from the school and of course the whole gym is loud and rocking and every bit, so the students and a Camden high school girl was sitting right next to me. And I can still remember her leaning over my head and saying in my ear, if your starters are this bad, how bad are you?
I have never wanted to go in a game less in my whole life.
It was a logical conclusion, right? You don’t even make the starting squad and they’re horrible.
is making. Traumatic claims about himself to say, Jesus is superior in comparable. And the exclusive way to God is exactly what he claimed. It is silly to say it as arrogant for him to make a claim of exclusivity, as the means to God, it is reasonable and logical. Nothing could be more so if he owes his who he claimed to be, and Peter is there saying the guy that made this man stand and walk after 40 something years of, yeah.
He’s the one who is the only means in humanity. That is the pathway to God, to this restoration of life, as it ought to be. He is the exclusive means of God and as difficult as this is, and there is nothing harder in sharing your faith than having a pluralistic culture and, and, and people in the cubicle next to yours and on the school bus with you.
And, and, and on, on the work job side, this is something very hard to put your arm and well, what are you saying? I mean, why, how dare Jesus say he’s the only one? Well, if he’s who he says he is, of course he’s the exclusive way to God. The third thing, Jesus is matchless in what he demands from his followers.
He demands exhaustive allegiance, two minutes, two moments before the Sanhedrin portray this. Peter and John are there and the passage describes it. In these words, it says that they put them Peter and John, and this, this fellow who is now become their friend are in the middle. And it says they were in the midst of them.
You have to picture this in that bit, large Portico, what you, they would sit in a large semi-circle and you would stand in the middle of that. Semi-circle of 71 in this case, majoritively hostile judges. What do you think came to mind is Peter and John stood there wasn’t that long ago somebody else had stood in that same spot.
Christ had been there before this very August group. How’d that turn out? That followed a few hours later with Jesus hanging from a cross. You don’t think that was on the mind. Peter and John right now, and Peter and John they’re before this same group and us Caiaphas and all the boys, same group of people.
And yet Peter response with this astonishing statement, you killed him. God raised him from the dead. He is the cornerstone upon which all of faith is to be built. And you killed him the second picture to me, not only did Peter do that once after the religious leaders are silenced verse 18 through 20 are, to me, one of the most amazing parts of this whole passage, because after the logistic.
Throw them out for awhile and then they bring them back and they’ve had this conversation. The conversation is, look, we can’t, we can’t really do much at this point. Um, the people, you know, it’s just, the noise is too loud right now. I mean, all these people are saying, you know, I’ll stop. We just gotta Le so let’s just warn them, slap their hands, uh, draw a line in the sand.
You are not to speak about this guy anymore. And meaning PRI primarily don’t speak about him being a living Christ. And so they bring him back in and here’s what happens in verse 18. Um,
so they called them and charge them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Okay. I’ll tell you what my humanness says to. I want to say to Peter and John, nice you one, the silencers have been silenced game set match. You won this thing. Don’t screw it up. Okay. They make this statement, you know, Dodd said, okay, you don’t have don’t lie.
Say we’ll get, but just, just play nice. You know, you didn’t end up crucified. You didn’t end up flocked. You didn’t end up ex-communicated from Israel. They’ve smacked your hands. Okay. But they know in, you know, you’ve won this round, but they can’t do it. Peter can’t do it. So here’s what he says in verse 19 and 20.
Sorry, this print is really small. But Peter and John answered them, whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God you miss judge for, we cannot but speak. But what we have seen in hurt at this point, there is a line drawn in the sand it’s aligned. That would be very tempting for us to say, okay, you know, I don’t think they would lie, but, but just, uh, thanks for sharing.
See you next round or whatever he said. No, no, no, guys, we put it to you. Should we obey you? Or God, we can’t put speak what we’ve seen or heard. There are going to be lines drawn in your life. It’s going to happen. There are going to be moments. Maybe there’s one right now. Where the Lord is allowing a line to be drawn and your life.
And he’s saying, if your mind, if you belong to me, I’m not asking you to be particularly, uh, talented or capable or a great speaker. A great witness, sir. But I am asking you one thing I want you to wholeheartedly want me as the center of your life and wanting me as the center of your life right now means you’ve got to take the step over this line and say, yes, Lord, I’ve been.
To acknowledge you at work Lord I’ve, I’ve been willing to cross over that line and address the issues that I know are unethical in the way we’re doing stuff in our office and I’m playing along and I’m not standing up. God, I know that crossing the line means that I’ve got to make changes in the things that I am watching on the video and on, on the, on the internet, whatever that line looks like, but it’s going to come.
And some of you are right there and the Lord has brought you here this morning to say, come on over, take the stand, make the decision, do the choice. I’m worth it. I’m worthy of your allegiance, your surrender, your whole heart. I’m the matchless Christ. The one who does extraordinarily powerful things in your life.
For scared people. You remember who it is that, that standing there telling these guys you killed them. And God raised. It’s a guy who a maiden in the very high priest, courtyard caused people to say, no, no, no, no, no. I don’t know him. No, no I, no, no, you have, you have somebody else wrong guy. What happened to Peter?
Peter said, God, everything. I have all that I am. Um, I’m, I’m yielded to the spirit and the spirit then pours in this transforming strength into Peter’s life.
Jesus is really asking simply one thing of us that we’re wholehearted seeking. If we’re willing to cross those lines, the resurrection of Christ. Proves the matchless Snus of Christ. He is the living king, the living Lord of life. He shows it in his extraordinary power, which he’s willing to do in your life.
He shows it in the exclusivity of his claims, which he’s asking you to embrace even in a world that doesn’t appreciate it. He does it in the exhaustive allegiance that he requires of his followers. Lord, we come to you this morning. It is because Christ is risen from the dead that we come this morning and seek to live out our lives with you.
We live with the risen Christ. God, may we be the recipients? That emboldening power that you gave to those two, scared rabbits, Peter and John, and you’d gave them astonishing strength to stand for you. Lord. Maybe we willing to vocally embrace the exclusivity of Christ because it is the most logical thing in the world that there’s only one way to God.
If it is God himself, that came to provide a way, Lord take all that we are. And all the we have, your resurrection has declared your still the transforming God, Lord. We love you for being willing to be that to us in Jesus’ name. Amen.