The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name
did you do this?”
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 man who was lame and are being 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. Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.
I love the initial response of Peter to the Sanhedrin. He begins by simply addressing the ridiculous nature of the accusation before them. They are being questioned because of… kindness? The strategy is very clear. In order for them to accuse, Peter wanted to make sure everyone knew that their act was not one of maliciousness but of love. Love offered to someone forgotten by society. It was a kindness extended to the marginalized.Peter clarifies what they have done before he addresses who gave them the authority to do it.
This was a stage, unbeknownst to the Sanhedrin, for God.
And then Peter reveals the name by which this miracle was performed. It was Jesus.Jesus, who they killed, but God resurrected. It was the Messiah!
I find it beautiful that when given a stage to express who Jesus is, the disciples chose the word kindness. What is it to be kind? In my own context, growing up in the midwest, kindness was mere pleasantries. It was an unspoken requirement that we all make eye-contact, nod, smile, and say “hello”. I didn’t realize this was not the reality for others until I made my way to Chicago. I found out the hard way that my actions were creepy to strangers I passed on the street.
But as I’ve grown and encountered God’s word in deeper ways, I have taken on a new understanding of kindness. The kindness of God is not about manners or a shallow nod. Rather, the kindness of God was active throughout scripture in powerful ways. God’s kindness encounters all people from the poor and outcasted woman at the well, to the wealthy entitled Nicodemus. And at each interaction,God’s kindness is expressed in action. These actions, often changing the lives of those God encounters.
And so, as I read this passage, I am met with both a question and a challenge:
1. How has God’s kindness changed my life?
2. How can God’s kindness be made manifest in my own life?
I pray this devotional will be an encouragement to you all as Acts 4 has been an encouragement to me!