Monday, December 12, 2011

Astonished and Silenced

Astonished and Silenced

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. Acts 4:13 (ESV)

BOLDNESS: parresia (all out-spokeness, frankness, bluntness, publicity, assurance); from pas (all) and rheo (to utter, speak or say); from rheo (to flow, or "run")

ASTONISHED: thaumazo (to wonder or admire); from thauma (wonder); from theaomai (to look closely at, to perceive or visit)

The religious leaders greatly admired the bold, out-spokenness of their speech. Notice that their wonder resulted from seeing Peter and John, rather than listening to them. It was not so much as their words of reason, but their boldness in speaking that caused others to look closely at Peter and John in wonder and admiration.

The astonishment came because of the constrast between what the crowd had expected of Peter and John before they saw them preaching. Notice that the religious leaders SAW their boldness but PERCEIVED their ignorance.

PERCEIVED: katalambano (to take eagerly, seize, possess); from kata (down) and lambano (to take, get hold of)

UNEDUCATED: agrammatos (unlettered, illiterate); from gramma (a writing, letter, note, epistle, book); from grapho (to "grave", write or describe)

COMMON: idiotes (a private person or an ignoramus); from idios (pertaing to self, one's own, private or separate)

The religious leaders thought they had Peter and John nailed down as illiterate and "idiots" living in their own make-believe world. They had assumed that Peter and John were simply two hermits that had made their way into town to beg for food and mumble secret incantations and curses. The expected them to be mystical, secretive and, especially, quiet.

They weren't.

The prejudice and assumptions of the religious leaders disintegrated suddenly, not only by dynamic words of reason, but more from the bold, outspoken way that Peter and John spoke. They boldly accused the Jews of killing an innocent Man, One Who was the Son of God, One Who was mankind's only hope of salvation from damnation by a righteous God.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Read through Peter's message, from Acts 4:8-12. What things did Peter say, that for our society, are politically incorrect or outspoken?

First, the religious leaders were rigid in prejudicial scorn for Peter and John. Then they looked at them with wonder and admiration. Finally, they recognize that they had been with Jesus.

RECOGNIZE: epigniosko (to know upon some mark, to become fully acquainted with, to acknowledge); from epi (over) and ginosko (to know absolutely)

To this point Peter had preached only to crowds of religious people. The inner circle of leaders who controlled the Jews in Jerusalem had not ventured out of their ivory towers. But now, arrested and brought directly into the inner sanctum before the rulers, elders, scribes, priests and high priest, Peter and John had shocked the leaders into wonder and admiration. Finally, the Jewish leaders made a direct connection between these bold, outspoken men and Jesus of Nazareth.

These men had been with Jesus.

What did Jewish leaders know about Jesus?

Read Acts 2:22-24.

  • Jesus performed miracles
  • Jesus was crucified and killed
  • He apparently was resurrected from death

Did the Jewish leaders know Jesus had been resurrected from the dead?

Read Matthew 27:62-66

They had feared his body being taken, they had feared any appearance that Jesus had been resurrected, so they made the tomb secure.

Read Matthew 28:11-15

Despite their precautions, the body of Jesus disappeared. If the guards had been attacked and overpowered, the priests would have declared this publicly. But the priests were forced to bribe the guards, forcing them to lie to the public, claiming that they had simply fallen asleep, hiding the truth: the guards had seen an angel roll the stone back, revealing an empty tomb, and they had fainted from terror.

The guards, and the priests knew, absolutely, that Jesus, whether dead or alive, had left the sealed tomb without any human intervention.

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of the Four

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Why is our faith dependent upon the truth of Christ's resurrection from the dead? Would our faith be weakened or changed if we were to be convinced that Jesus were not raised from the dead?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What prejudices have you found in yourself? How have past prejudices changed for you?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What practical ways might God have us change the "color" or "flavor" of our church to reflect the diversity of our community?

Image courtesy of bxtr, image license agreement.