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Friday, December 16, 2011

Unswayed By The Facts

Unswayed By The Facts

"But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name. So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus." Acts 4:14-18 (ESV)

Peter and John, arrested and brought to trial before the Jewish religious court, spoke boldly and decisively. The high priest and the select, inner core of Jerusalem's theocracy were astonished and silent.

What paralyzed these powerful men's tongues? Irrefutable, verifiable truth in the form of a beggar standing with Peter and John.

The beggar had been lame from birth, surviving only through the care of friends and family. After living as a crippled, helpless man for more than 40 years, the man was instantly healed by Christ's power through a miraculous, faithful command given by Peter: "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" (Acts 3:6)

Now, the healed man stood with Peter and John before the intimidating Jewish court.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Why couldn't the high priest charge them all with lying?

Privately, in executive session, the court debated what to do.

NOTABLE: gnostos (well known); from ginosko (to "know" absolutely)

PERFORMED: ginomai (to cause to be, to "gen"-erate, to become)

EVIDENT: phaneros (shining, apparent, publicly, externally); from phaino (to lighten, shine, show); from phos (luminousness); from phao (to shine or make manifest)

DENY: arneomai (to contradict, disavow, reject, abnegate); from rheo (to utter, speak or say)

Faced with witnesses of the miracle throughout all Jerusalem, the religious leaders had no argument or evidence for their charges against Peter and John. The could not convict them of lying or deception.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Faced with irrefutable evidence, why did not the high priest believe Peter and John's testimony?

The essential fear felt by the Jewish leaders was that faith in Christ would spread throughout the population. The religious leaders had no interest in believing their testimony, whether is was true or not, but it was obvious to them that many people in Jerusalem did believe.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Should a leader bow to public pressure? Should a leader join with the public majority despite it meaning they must forsake what they personally believe? Can the Jewish leaders be admired for remaining firm to their convictions?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you consider yourself a bold witness? Is a quiet witness better or worse?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What group of people in our society is similar in power or function as the Jewish court the Peter and John faced?

Image courtesy of Brian Turner, http://www.netvibes.com/steakpinball, Creative Commons license