We're continuing our series on the Holy Spirit, "Catch the Wind," the first five chapters of the book of Acts. Today is part 7 of a 10 parts.
One day, I was out in the yard and caught a black widow spider. This spider happened to be crawling around on some type of cocoon or something, and I thought, "I'll bet that's the nest. And I'll bet there's a young black widow spider embryo in there. So I got it loose from all those real strong cobwebs and brought it in the house and put it on my wife's kitchen counter. The kids gathered around and I said, "Do you want to see what a baby black widow spider looks like?" And then I would take it out of the house, you know. And so the kids all gathered around and I took my bare hand and tore open this cocoon, this sack. It wasn't what I expected. It wasn't one black widow spider. It was hundreds of little black widow spiders, and they were all able to walk. And they started taking their very first walk. And here was a circle expanding in front of my eyes. I thought, "Something needs to be done here fairly quickly." And so I got a wet paper towel and I put it over that circle and applied pressure. I don't think my wife was happy about the whole thing. I think I got them all killed and took it outside and disposed of it, burned it up later. You know, sometimes you've got to do something in a hurry.
I think it was that way back in Jerusalem. If you look in Acts, around the fourth chapter, today's topic, you're going to see that the authorities in Jerusalem recognized that a situation was just about to get out of hand. Something had to happen real quick. If you will come to Acts 4, The flickering flame of the early church was quickly being fanned into a tempest. Guards came up to where Peter & John were preaching and threw a wet towel on the gospel and arrested them.
Acts 4:1-3. The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. You couldn't have court in the evening time.
They hoped to put a damp cloth to stop the spread of the Gospel and let the preachers cool off in the clink. But Jail bars cannot confine the gospel any more than iron bars could imprison a flock of butterflies. It just doesn't work.
The priests were angry at where Peter was preaching. And the Sadducees were angry at what Peter was preaching. The priests were in charge of the temple. "Here he is, preaching at our pulpit, he's preaching in our temple." And they were about to lose control of their temple. We don't like it when our power is challenged." The Sadducees were upset because he was preaching about the resurrection of Jesus. You see, the Sadducees didn't believe in that. Instead of listening to the truth of the sermon, they tried to silence it by putting them in jail. When you come to church what you need to do is accept what is happening, accept the leading of the Holy Spirit. And what they did is got an entirely different message out of it.
You get what you want when you come to church. You know, if you want to worship the Lord and you come to this sanctuary here at McDonald Road, you're going to find Jesus. And if you want to find something to take notes on and criticize, you will be able to find that, too. You get what you come looking for. And the Sadducees got what they wanted. The rest of the crowd was excited. From three in the afternoon until evening they were baptizing people and teaching the gospel and the crowd had grown from a crowd of three thousand people to a crowd of five thousand people. They had gained two thousand in one day. That's pretty good success, isn't it.
That's what was going on. You know, if our church today, the modern-day church could catch the spirit and the power of the early church, what would happen to our church today? This is exactly what we need. We need these verses here in Acts.
But the Sadducees were not happy. Peter and John were teaching that Jesus was the Messiah. They believed the Messiah was just a concept, and idea, He was not an actual person. Their job description was to provide the official interpretation of Scripture. And here was Peter and John out there interpreting Scripture. They taking the place of the Sadducees. And so they did not like it. These men were these unrefined uneducated disciples teaching heresy. Something must be done and done fast.
So, Peter and John were sent to jail, and became the first Christians to spend the night in jail. I wonder what happened that long night. We are told by Ellen G. White in Acts of the Apostles, p. 67, "While Peter and John were prisoners, the other disciples...had prayed unceasingly...fearing that the (same) cruelty shown to Christ might be repeated." They're going to kill Peter. They're going to hang John on the cross. And so they were very fearful of that. So during that night, a prayer band of the ten remaining disciples and perhaps many of the 5000 stayed up all night pleading for the life of Peter and John. There is tremendous power in Prayer. James 5:16 (KJV) ... pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
And so, who was after Peter and john? Well, it was Annas and his son-in-law Caiaphas. Annas was a former high priest and Caiaphas followed him. These two were the same two that crucified Jesus. And now the were after Peter and John.
Let me tell you a bit about the background of Annas. Do you know why Annas was so upset at John and Peter? It was because of money. That's exactly why. Annas owned the money-changing business of the temple. He owned the sacrificial animals that were sold at exorbitant prices. He was in charge of that. You could come into the temple and you had to get your animal there and you had to pay the price that they were going to sell it at. The inspectors would only approve animals that Annas was selling. And the inspectors were appointed by Annas. So, it was a racket. They had covered both ends of it. When you went there you just had to pay through the nose.
Do you remember when Jesus cleansed the Temple? Let me read that to you from Matthew 21:12,13. Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," He said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a den of robbers." And so, Jesus overturned the money changing tables on Monday. By Friday, He was dead. The straw that broke the camel's back is when Jesus did that. Why was it such a significant event? Jesus was entering into the profits of Annas and Caiaphas. It's money.
If Peter and John were going to continue the work of Jesus, and if Peter and John were to continue the work of Jesus, then Peter and John had to be stopped because they could now financially ruin the empire that Annas and Caiaphas had started. And so they put them in jail. Acts 4:7. They had Peter and John brought before them. It was the day after they had spent all night in jail. Then they had them come before them. And the temple police brought them into the court. Now, we don't have temple police here at McDonald Road. We just don't get into that. We have several police officers that attend our church here and we're thankful for them, we honor them. The church today doesn't have temple police, but they did. And they were brought before this group.
Where was their Trial? In the temple courtyard in Jerusalem. Peter had been there before. Ellen White in Acts of the Apostles, p. 62, says, "In that Very room and before some of those very men Peter had shamefully denied his Lord." They thought this time, "We've got Peter back in here. He's preaching and baptizing. We're going to stop him because he'll deny the Lord just like he did the first time. He hasn't changed. We know Peter. You watch him, he'll cave in again. He is a coward!" The rulers flattered themselves that Peter again would deny Jesus. But this time they were dead wrong. Peter had been converted. Peter had caught the Wind. Peter was full of the Holy Spirit. Now Peter had the chance to redeem his past cowardice. Never blow your second chance. Peter was ready.
If this had happened to you, you would be arrested here in Collegedale. You would be taken down to Lovell Field and put on a plane and you would be flown to Washington DC. You would spend the entire night incarcerated in a high security prison and then on Monday morning at nine o'clock you would stand before the Supreme Court of the United States of America. That's the equivalent of what happened to Peter and John. And, there you would be, standing in front of the Supreme court with all these dignitaries. Would you be a bit embarrassed? Would you be a little bit speechless? It would be tough, wouldn't it. Put yourself into their shoes.
And they stood there as a bunch of nobodies because Peter and John lived at Burlap Junction. They made their living out of a smelly fishing boat. They were nobodies. And, sitting on every side of them were all these dignitaries, the rulers, the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Sanhedrin. All the makers and shakers of Jerusalem were there. And there they were, a bunch of nobodies. Let me tell you that when Jesus Christ comes into the heart of a nobody, you become a somebody. Peter and John were now the children of the King of the universe. Jesus was now sitting at the right hand of God. So, they were actually heavenly ambassadors representing a much higher judicial authority than what they had there in Jerusalem. This made them more than a match for their enemies. With Jesus in your heart you need never fear.
Acts 4:7. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?" Here follows one very long sentence even in the Greek language. One very powerful sentence.
Acts 4:8-10. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed."
Peter was no coward. Peter was honored to speak in behalf of Jesus. Peter had a second chance. You know, if you blow your second chance, you've really done it. Peter did not blow his second chance. He stood courageously, not like a dog that had been kicked too many times, Peter stands his ground like a Lion. Peter courageously spoke to the killers of His Lord in the same room where he had been before and where he had failed before he was now successful. And that tells you something: with the Holy Spirit, when you fail this time, if you have the Holy Spirit you don't have to fail in that same circumstance again. What a change! How can this be? Peter has experienced the power of Jesus name. The power that raised Jesus from the tomb now raised Peter's courage and gave him Holy boldness. He remembered Jesus' promise: John 14:13 "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." And Peter had healed the cripple by Jesus' name. It had worked. Now that he was here in front of the Sanhedrin he spoke out in Jesus' name and it worked. That's where he got his courage from. He had experienced the power of Jesus' name.
By the way, when Jesus healed people, in whose name did He heal people? Did He say, "In the name of My Father, be healed?" Not once in the entire New Testament does Jesus heal anybody in the name of the Father. He uses His own name, His own power. There is power in the name of Jesus Christ. That name opens the assets of heaven for our disposal.
Peter could have said, "You want to know whose name healed this crippled man. Well, I'll tell you: God did it." And would that have been true? Would that have gotten Peter off the hook? Yes, and did God do it? Yes, because Jesus is God. So to say "God did it" would be technically true. The charges against them would have been dropped.
But Peter didn't beat around the bush. Peter said, "You want to know who did it? The Person you crucified is the person who did it. The Person who is raised from the dead is the One that did it. And His name is Jesus Christ of Nazareth." No doubts about that. I like that decisiveness. And that's what you get when you have the Holy Spirit. So, I imagine the Pharisees and the Sadducees were red with rage. Actually what Peter had done, he had thrown the cat in with the pigeons (John Phillips, Exploring Acts, p. 81) and the war was on.
Peter told it in all its gory details what they had done to Jesus Christ. He laid the blame directly at their feet. Notice Acts 4:11 He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.'" - Psalm 118:22. "He is the stone which you builders rejected which has become the capstone." He's saying, He's say,
And then Acts 4:12. Here's an amazing statement. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
If you don't have that text underlined in your Bible you ought to.
And that is what we believe as Seventh-day Adventists. Jesus has the only key to eternal life. In fact, He has the master key, and the only key.
You have heard that all religions are just different roads leading to Heaven. That is a big lie. Some religions don't lead you to heaven. Only those religions that honor Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and God are the ones that lead to eternal life. Jesus made that very clear in John 14:6. Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." You can't be saved in these other religions.
The Sanhedrin marveled at the transformation in the disciples. Wow! "Something has happened here. These people have changed. They've got power now. They've got real strength. They're speaking with authority." And do you know what the Sanhedrin attributed this authority to? Look at Acts 4:13. ...these men had been with Jesus. That was the secret of their power. They had been with Jesus. Of course they had. They'd been with Him for three and a half years. They had been with Him for the whole forty day after the resurrection. They had seen Him on and off all during that time. They had been with Jesus. And they had been transformed after the resurrection.
Overnight, Peter had gone from a country bumpkin to a Billy Graham. How did he do it? By being with Jesus. Friend, if you want a different life, if you want to be changed then you need to be with Jesus. That's the key. That how it happens.
Please move on ahead to Acts 4:22. I want to talk a little bit about the lame man. This says something about the lame man. It says, For the man that was miraculously healed was over forty years old. He was over the hill. He was over forty. Now, why is that in the bible? Why is his age in the Bible? I mean, when you are forty you are over the hill, they tell me. Why would his age be there? Well, when Jesus was born, the lame man would have been about seven or eight. When Jesus was twelve years old, he went to the temple. This man would have probably been at the temple begging because he would have been about 21. Jesus saw this lame man before. Jesus went all around Palestine healing lame people, and sick people, and raising dead people back to life. He healed almost everybody in Palestine. But he did not heal this man. Finally, Jesus died on the cross. And this lame man was still lame. He was unhealed. Why? For a very good reason.
Let me tell you why. He was to be a star in the formation of the early church. You would never hear about this man if he had been healed before. We hardly hear bout a fraction of those who were healed. This lame beggar as far as we know, was the very first person to be healed by the resurrected Christ. You know this star. You know this story. He was to be one of God's heros. I think there is a lot in that. How often we must wait for what seems an eternity. Sometimes we think, "Well, Lord You're not healing me. You aren't hearing my prayers. I have this terrible disease, I've got arthritis or I've got rheumatism, or I've got cancer, or I've got something real bad. And please heal me." But You're not healed. Let me tell you, your time is coming, even if it is on the other side of the resurrection, because this happened on the other side of the resurrection. Your time is coming. You are going to be healed of whatever you disease is. You're going to be healed. And you're going to live with joy throughout eternity because of what God has done for you. And just maybe God will use you as a star in His eternal Kingdom. There is a reason for it. So trust God and be patient like a good saint.
Acts 4:20 says: "For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." They went out praising God. They experienced the true joy of the Wind. Let's catch the same joy they had. Let's spread that joy. Let's catch the Wind that they had and proclaim our Savoir.
Next week: "Sharing the Wind" by Paul Carlson, our new Pastor.
Hymn of Praise: #88, I Sing the Mighty Power of God Scripture: Acts 4:8-13 Hymn of Response: #240, Fairest Lord Jesus 030830#539
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last updated 9/1/2003 by Bob Beckett.