“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’” Psalm 2:1-3
Acts 4 could be describing America and other lands today: religious and political leaders and others with culture-imposed clout get greatly annoyed because of any proclamation about Jesus. They gather together, pool their biblical ignorance, fret over the spread and influence of this teaching, and plot how to suppress the truth.
But the Spirit-filled apostles in the early church were undeterred. When the rulers, elders, scribes, and priestly family inquire about the power and name behind the miracles being done (where was their compassion and marveling gratitude?), Peter replied, “‘Let it be known to all of you 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 is standing before you well. 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.’ Now 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.”
Still, the frustrated men had to quell this ‘threatening movement.’ “So they called them and charged 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.’” Not only were Peter and John bold in their conviction, but they went to their friends and all “lifted their voices together” in praise and thanksgiving. Undeterred, they prayed, “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” God upheld His own, who cared more for His kingdom purposes and glory than their own lives or reputation. “And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”
As the heat rises in our culture, keep Your people true to You, Lord, undeterred in speaking and living Your word. Fill us with Your Spirit, increase in us dependent and bold faith. Stretch out Your hand of grace on us and through us to a needy, inquiring world.