An officer of the court and six guards escorted Peter and John into the Chamber of Hewn Stones above the Royal portico. The two disciples dragged leg chains and stood facing Joseph Caiaphas, the high priest, who sat in a semicircle with other members of the Sanhedrin. They were mostly priests, whose powers were nearly unlimited in Israel. They wore white hats and while linen tunics tied at the waist.
Regarding Peter and John critically, Caiaphas was arrayed in his blue headdress and a robe with golden bells and pomegranates. Adorning his shoulders were ephods embroidered with bands of gold, purple, scarlet, and blue. On his chest was a gold purse with twelve gemstones, representing the tribes of Israel.
Jesus had appeared before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, which hastily tried and convicted him of blasphemy at night and then handed him over to the Roman authorities on a charge of treason. Sitting around Caiaphas now were his Uncle Annas, the former high priest, and his son Jonathan and Alexander. Annas had been high priest for nine years, until the Romans deposed him and appointed Caiaphas. But high priests were appointed for a lifetime, so the Sanhedrin continued to grant Annas respect within the council.
“By what power or by whose authority have you done this?” Caiaphas asked Peter.
He didn’t respond.
Caiaphas’ eyes narrowed with disdain. “What is your answer?” he demanded, ignoring the beggar standing beside the disciples.
John looked at Peter, who closed his eyes for a moment and then spoke to the council. “You called us because we showed kindness to this man who was a cripple, and you want to know how he was healed.”
“That is correct,” Annas said coldly.
“Jesus the Messiah from Nazareth healed him.”
Some council members leaned forward, fixing a sardonic gaze on the two disciples. Others frowned or shook their heads and mumbled.
“What should we do?” Caiaphas asked Annas. “It’s evident these men were with the Nazarene. And this beggar can now walk.”
Annas leaned close to his nephew. “Send them out so we can talk about this.”
Peter and John waited outside, and then were called back into the hall.
Caiaphas straightened in his chair, fixing his eyes on the disciples. “You are commanded not to teach in the Nazarene’s name.”
As usual, Peter couldn’t keep quiet. “You have no authority to decide whether God wants us to obey you, or him.”
John then stepped forward. “We cannot stop telling what we have seen and heard.”
“You will stop!” Caiaphas shouted . . . if you don’t, we will arrest you again. Do you understand?”
Peter glanced at John, and then stared at the high priest. “You have no authority to—“
Caiaphas raised his right hand to end the matter. Finally, he sighed. “Just let them go.”
The guards escorted Peter and John out of the hall. “Leave the temple,” the commander said to them.
The two disciples and the beggar hurried along the western portico, went down the main
stairway to the valley road, and made their way back to the lower city.
“Where are we going?” asked the beggar.
“To our house,” John informed him.
“Actually, it belongs to a friend,” Peter said.
When they got to Mary’s, their brothers were waiting in the courtyard.
“Peter, John!” James said. “Are you all right?”
“Yes . . . we want to tell you what happened,” John said.
James glanced at the beggar. “Who is this?”
“The Lord healed him at the gate,” John answered.
“Now I can walk!” the beggar shouted, dancing and laughing for all to see.
“We want to tell you about it,” Peter said impatiently.
After going upstairs John told them what had happened, and then they prayed. “Oh, Lord,” John began, “you made the heaven, earth and sea, and everything in them. You poke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David who asked why the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?”
Then there was talk about Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate, who conspired with Gentiles and Jews against Jesus. Antipas was the Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, and Pilate was the Roman procurator of Judea.
“These men did you had decided should happen,” Peter prayed. “Consider their threats, Lord, and help us to speak with boldness. Stretch out your hand. Heal and do many wonders before our eyes.”
It was then Peter and the others felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.