SILENCE THEM WITH THREATS!
"They sent them out of the room so they could work out a plan. They talked it over. 'What can we do with these men? By now it's known all over town that a miracle has occurred, and they are behind it. There is no way we can refute that. But so that it doesn't go any further, let's silence them with threats so they won't dare to use Jesus' name ever again with anyone.
"They called them back and warned them that they were on no account ever again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John spoke right back. 'Whether it's right in God's eyes to listen to you rather than to God, you decide. As for us, there's no question -- we can't keep quiet about what we've seen and heard.'" Acts 4:15-20 (The Message).
How naive of these so-called 'leaders'! Did they really think that their puny threats would put a stop to a spiritual revival that was gathering momentum like a snowball tumbling down a mountain? Their threats were no more effective than shouting against thunder.
These apostles were on a roll. God had raised up Jesus and elevated Him to the highest place in the universe. To Him was given all authority in heaven and on earth and to His faithful apostles He had delegated His authority to preach and heal in His name. Everyone who heard would have an opportunity to respond to the good news that the kingdom of God had come to all people.
What were the Sanhedrin's threats against a commission like that, especially when God's power was let loose to confirm the message they were delivering? Put yourself in their shoes. How much notice would you have taken of the hot air of these bullies when God was on the move and He was using you?
The apostles were drunk with the power of God. They were exhilarated with the sweet air of the kingdom after living their whole lives in the stale atmosphere of religion. God had opened a window and let in the fresh breeze of the Holy Spirit and they were not about to shut it again and go back to the very beliefs and ways that had imprisoned them.
They wanted everyone to know this vibrant new life that had been poured into them. Peter and John's response was not arrogant or disrespectful. God's power was at work in them and they were not about to shut it down because a few religious cranks ordered them to do so. Jesus was alive and resident in them through His Spirit. They simply stated the truth. Should we obey God or you? You decide.
They were speaking to men who claimed to be obeying God and teaching the people to obey God. Now these same men were ordering a few Galilean peasants not to obey God in spite of what was obvious. No one could do what the apostles were doing without the power of God. They themselves had acknowledged that a miracle had happened and they could not get around it.
Every encounter the apostles had with the religious hierarchy laid more guilt on them and showed them up for what they were, power-hungry bigots who were more interested in their own position than in the responsibility of their role as Israel's leaders.
Those who lead God's people need to be careful not to allow self-interest or pride of position get in the way of representing Jesus to the people. We are to be both followers and leaders. Peter and John were not fazed by threats or intimidation. They had their mandate and so do we.
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