Acts 4:5-12 – “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…”
Peter and John testify with holy boldness to the truth of a risen Savior in the shadows of the resurrection, the jubilation of a recent revival meeting, and miracles that exemplified the power and grace of God. Their actions demonstrate to the Christian community that we must have the courage to stand for our convictions for our faith to be vital.
Courage comes in many forms. Courage can be dramatic when rescuers enter a dangerous situation at risk to themselves or when unarmed protesters face down tanks, troops, or state-sanctioned entities to secure freedom for themselves and others. It can also be subtle and serene. We witness this kind of courage when someone we know faces a severe illness and even death but never loses their capacity to care for others. I can only imagine the amount of adrenaline that must have been rushing through the veins of Peter and John as they stood before the Council of religious authorities bearing witness with courage.
The leaders of the Council are mildly impressed while also perturbed that these two uneducated, ordinary men would have the audacity to stand up and address with boldness this august body. What gave Peter and John the kind of courage it takes to speak with holy boldness before a group that could very well incarcerate them or ostracizes them from the community? The answer is found in the text – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowered them to do what they could not do on their own. The Spirit of God has the power to liberate us for service on God’s behalf in situations that we thought we would never be confronted. Sometimes it is hard to read this story and believe that they would risk their own lives with such a bold move. But authentic release comes to us by the Holy Spirit when we have known the liberating power of salvation and the wholeness and freedom found in Jesus Christ.
Have you ever felt led to witness God’s love but felt inadequate and not up to the task? How easy it is to second-guess ourselves and backtrack when we are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. Yet, Peter and John have heard what Jesus commanded, “Go and proclaim the good news,” and they have taken it to heart.
Peter and John stand unnerved as they speak truth to power. The Council moves to quiet Peter and John, but they will not be silenced. They are willing to risk life and limb to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. For some time, the world has known that the gospel is dangerous because it will incite action for justice and peace for those who hear and believe. But when you have tasted the goodness of the Lord, it is impossible to keep quiet.
Examples of holy boldness are visible daily in our midst. We witness saints worldwide and in our communities who risk their lives every day with courage for the gospel of liberation. But when the church and its members suffer no persecution, take no stands, and do not speak truth to power but instead enjoy the privileges and support of the things of the earth, they must beware – because they risk not performing as the true church of Jesus Christ. But when the church acts boldly to proclaim Christ – God’s holy presence, love becomes a beacon of light, and God a place of refuge which provides strength for the journey.
PRAYER: Ever-loving God, whose will it is that we should come to you through your Son Jesus Christ: Inspire our witness to him, that all may know the power of his forgiveness and the hope of his resurrection; who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.