The Tremendous Response Of The People To The Miracle Of The Crippled Beggar And Peter’s Second Great Sermon; The Hostile Counter-Response Of The Authorities; The Trial Of Peter And John By The Sanhedrin; Their Bold Defense; The Decision Of The Council; Peter And John’s report To The Community
Because of the Fall, mankind is in a state of rebellion against the King. Humanity is alienated from our great and good Creator. We are dead in our trespasses and sins. The Three-In-One God, being gracious and merciful, did not leave us in this horrible, hopeless condition. He sent His eternal Son into this world as Israel’s Messiah – the ultimate Prophet, Priest and King. Rabbi Yeshua gave us the profoundest teachings, and did great miracles that showed He was very close to His Father, and empowered by God, and that Yeshua was the One who would eventually restore a broken creation and heal sickened and dying humanity.
Sadly, the majority of the Chosen People rejected the Son of God, and Yeshua died a cruel and painful, and yet atoning death. Then the Savior rose from the dead, overcoming the very real and ruinous forces of Satan, sin and death. After completing the education of His disciples, He ascended to Heaven, to the right hand of God.
Israel’s Supreme Rabbi left a small, but well-taught and Holy Spirit-filled community with 12 special leaders to carry on His great task to seek and save a lost and dying world – starting with the Jewish people first. The Risen Rabbi was in Heaven, in a place of great honor and authority, but His followers were His body on Earth! They were His hands and feet and heart and mouth. Their purpose was to be a loving and worshiping and witnessing fellowship that would continue the Messiah’s mission.
Starting with 120 in Jerusalem, after the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, they grew to 3000 on the Shavuot following Messiah’s death on Passover. But, that was just the beginning. Something special happened that caused them to grow even more, and also enter into conflict with the leaders of the nation – like their Lord had before.
One day while Peter and John were going up to the temple at the 3:00 p.m. time for prayer, a poor man who had been crippled from birth, and unable to work, asked for charity from Peter and John. Peter said to him: In the name of Messiah Yeshua the Nazarene (“in the name” means “because of who Yeshua is, and what He is able to do, and because of the authority He has given me”) – walk”! And, a great miracle happened to the lame man. Immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with Peter and John, walking and leaping and praising God.
The miracle was immediate and complete and very public – right at one of the entrances to the temple, and at the time when the religious Jewish people were entering to take part in the closing prayers of the day! And many of the people knew this crippled man, and could see that a great miracle of healing had just taken place through two of Yeshua’s closest followers.
Wanting to fulfill his mission and tell these people the Good News about the final atonement and ultimate healing made possible by the Crucified-Yet-Risen Messiah, Simon Peter used this God-given opportunity to give his second great sermon – the essence of which is: Yeshua is alive! He is the long awaited Redeemer! He is the Savior! He is the Giver of Life! He is the Healer of humanity! One day Yeshua will completely heal those who know Him and join themselves to Him by means of their faith and allegiance. But, the majority of the nation of Israel had rejected Him, and shared in the guilt of His death. They could be forgiven from this great sin, which the people and the leaders had done in ignorance. They needed to turn from their wrong ways of acting and thinking, and accept the Resurrected Rabbi!
To this great proclamation of the truth, there was a great response, and following the great response was the beginning of the first great opposition to Messiah’s Holy Community of Believers, which Messiah had warned His followers to expect. Persecution and opposition has accompanied the true preaching of the Good News and the growth of the Messianic Community for the past 2,000 years.
As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Yeshua the resurrection from the dead. The priests were for the most part, Sadducees. They were in control of the temple. The Sadducees denied the teaching of the resurrection. So, the priests and leaders of the Sadducees were not going to tolerate non-Sadducees openly teaching, right in the temple, the resurrection, especially that Yeshua of Nazareth had risen from the dead. And they laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening.
But, the good results of the miracle and Peter’s great sermon had already reached many that day. The community had been 3,000. Now it had grown even more. But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
Even though only Peter and John and the priests and Sadducees were involved in this first interaction, what was going involved the entire Messianic Community, and the entire nation of Israel. So, on the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes (experts in the Torah) were gathered together in Jerusalem; and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent. This was a meeting of Israel’s highest political and religious leaders and their advisors. The High Council of the Jewish people, the Sanhedrin, was getting involved in deciding what to do with Yeshua’s followers – who were growing.
These two leaders of God’s Israel suddenly found themselves in a great trial that would affect not only them, but their entire community and its relationship to the rest of the nation of Israel. The Sanhedrin wanted to know exactly how Peter and John were able to do this miracle. When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” The leaders of the Chosen People wanted to know where Peter and John got the ability to heal the crippled man.
In a difficult and potentially very dangerous situation, the one who just a few years before had been a fisherman; Simon Peter, who just months before had three-times denied knowing Yeshua, was now a bold and Holy-Spirit filled spokesman! Responding to this very important and challenging situation, he gave a courageous and wise defense to the top political and religious authorities of the nation. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Peter had great a great Ally – the Spirit of God, who was filling him and giving him wisdom and boldness.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man (that’s a little irony, and it showed their hypocrisy. Why should they be on trial for a miracle that greatly benefitted the life of a cripple? What could possibly be wrong with that? No, dark agendas were motivating this trial),
as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel (that statement was bold and daring!), that by the name of Messiah Yeshua (those words were true and courageous!) the Nazarene (a place not known for producing great scholars, let alone the Messiah! Yet, amazingly, ironically, the truth was that Israel’s long awaited Prophet, Priest and King had come and He was a Nazarene! Great and important things can come from obscure and unexpected people and places – much like Peter and John and the small Messianic Community),
whom you crucified (that declaration was bold, powerful, provocative, dangerous – but true. These leaders were responsible for the death of the Messiah, and shared in the guilt of that crime. They were the ones who should be on trial – not Peter and John), whom God raised from the dead (that proclamation of the resurrection was confident and daring) – by this name this man stands here before you in good health. Peter directly and honestly answered their questions – along with giving proof that something miraculous had happened that was connected to Rabbi Yeshua. The formerly crippled man, who had been miraculously healed, was right there. Peter’s bold statements and the presence of the healed man were a very powerful response.
You have probably heard that the best defense is a good offense. There is truth to that. Fearless Peter now went further on the offense. To reinforce his statements, this special representative of the Son of God, a man who understood the Word of God so well, quoted a prophesy from Psalm 118 that predicted the very sin of rejection of the Messiah by Israel’s leaders that they had just committed. He is the Stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the Chief Corner Stone. Previously, Peter had heard the Master apply this Messianic truth to Himself. He understood that the builders were the leaders of the nation of Israel. The builders were supposed to be using good materials to help build a great spiritual dwelling place where the Creator could live with redeemed human beings.
The leaders of the Special Nation were supposed to know the God of Israel best of all, and build up Israel and the nations by having real faith in God themselves, and be responsive to His will and His Word. They were supposed to provide good teaching and wisdom and counsel that would help people come to know God, and be able to live with the Creator forever. But tragically, the very best building material, the strongest, and the most precious, and the most valuable stone, the very foundation stone and cornerstone of the great and eternal home that God was wanting them to help build – the Messiah, had been rejected by the builders of Israel!
The leaders of Israel should have recognized the Messiah when He came, and understood how important He was for God and man to live together, and they should have welcomed Him and submitted to His authority. But incredibly, they rejected the Messiah!
But, that was not the final word. God the Father over-ruled this terrible decision of these foolish leaders, and vindicated Yeshua, and raised Him from the dead, and honored Him in Heaven, and then poured out His Spirit on the Nazarene’s followers, and empowered Yeshua’s community.
It was now clear, beyond dispute, that Yeshua was the God-sent, God-ordained Messiah, and the Corner Stone for God’s great dwelling place, and faith and trust and confidence and belief and in Yeshua and adherence and loyalty to Yeshua were essential for the salvation of the Jewish people and the rest of humanity! And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under Heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved”.
Humanity is sinful, lost, fallen, dying, dead, alienated, under the anger and the judgment and the just condemnation of a holy God, headed to the First Death – physical death, followed by the Second Death – eternal death in the Lake of Fire. We are in the most desperate need of the salvation that God alone can provide. And the Creator has provided that help, that deliverance, that salvation, that rescue, that redemption, but in only one way and through only one Man – Yeshua! And not through any other man, nor any other religious leader or philosopher. The kind of rescuing we so desperately need can not come though Buddha, Krishna, Confucius, Mohammed, Freud, Marx; the deliverance from Satan, sin, death and Hell cannot come through any other system, faith, religion or philosophy; not through advances in science or technology, or economics or politics or education. Nothing and no one in this world, nothing and no one on this world, nothing and no one under this world, nothing and no one under Heaven can give us the help that we need – except for the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world – Yeshua of Nazareth. We can only experience salvation on God’s terms – and His terms are faith in and obedience to Yeshua!
If the Sanhedrin, the political and religious leaders of the Chosen People, who knew the Bible and prayed and sacrificed at the temple; if they needed to believe in Yeshua to be saved, you can be sure that everyone else on the planet does too! That means that anyone who teaches another way of salvation; anyone who denies the need for human beings to personally believe the Good News about Yeshua for salvation is teaching a lie.
* Universalism – the false teaching that everyone will be saved, that is a lie.
* Two-Covenant – the false teaching that the Jewish people have a covenant with God that will save us – apart from the Messianic New Covenant – that is a lie.
* The Wider Hope – the false teachings that Jewish people don’t need to believe in Yeshua, because their observance of non-Messianic Judaism is good enough to save them – that is a lie.
* The Unconscious Christian – the false teaching that people don’t need to believe in Yeshua, or they can deny Him and still saved. They are good and decent and Christians – they just don’t know it! That is a lie.
* The Unrecognized Mediation of Messiah – the false teaching that Messiah is functioning within the house of Israel as our unrecognized High Priest, drawing non-Messianic Jews closer to God. That is a lie.
These are all false teachings, lies, contradicting the plain teaching of Scripture.
The way Peter and John had courageously and wisely conducted themselves made a powerful impression on Israel’s leadership! These two fishermen reminded the Sanhedrin of Someone Else. Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Yeshua. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. Boldness and confidence about God makes an impression on people. Do you have that kind of holy boldness? Do you have that true knowledge of the Scriptures that comes from personal study makes an impression on people. Do you have a good understanding of the Word of God from your own personal study of it? Can people who are part of the world recognize that you have been with Yeshua? That you have been with Him, because you have been reading about Him, studying Him and His teachings, thinking about Him, and absorbing His teachings and His goals and mission? Has He been rubbing off on you? He has been affecting your mind, your confidence, your knowledge of the Word of God, your goals, the things you are doing?
The questions for the emissaries were over, and now it was time for the leaders to make their decision. But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name”.
Notice that the leaders acknowledged a miracle that had taken place through Peter. They knew a miracle had taken place, but, just like they did with Yeshua, they acknowledged His miracles, but they refused to come to the obvious and right conclusion. They were so far from God, so far from the truth of Torah, and so set in their wrong and wilful ways, that they refused to change their minds, and turn to God and Messiah and the truth that alone could save them.
Now the sin of the leaders was worse. More truth had been given, and that additional truth had been rejected. Their decision was made. Their course was set. Yeshua would not be acknowledged as the Messiah by the majority of the leaders of Israel or the majority of the people who would follow their leaders. Yeshua’s resurrection would not be acknowledged. Messiah’s followers would be rejected by the leaders and the majority of the people who trusted the leaders.
The followers of Yeshua would be threatened with punishments and intimated to try and force them into silence or compliance. And, if they wouldn’t comply or be silent, they would be rejected by the majority of the Jewish community. This trial and its decision to continue to reject Yeshua and intimidate and reject His followers set the tone for the relationship between the faithful remnant of Israel and the rest of the non-believing majority for the next 2,000 years.
The Sanhedrin had made their decision, and they announced it to the leaders of the Messianic community. And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Yeshua. The official ruling of the leadership of the nation of Israel: Messianic Jews were not to talk about Yeshua being the Messiah, or that He had been raised from the dead, or that He was in any way connected to salvation.
That was an unjust ruling. It was against the will of God. It contradicted His plan for the salvation of the world. The decision of the Sanhedrin was wrong and couldn’t be obeyed, and Yeshua’s representatives knew it. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard”. That was a very courageous declaration!
It makes clear some very important principles: that the laws of God are higher than the laws of man. The laws of God are higher than the laws of the State. It is the duty of those who know the Lord to honor the laws of God above the laws of man or the State. Civil disobedience was called for. And, our society is heading in this same anti-God, anti-Yeshua, anti-Gospel, anti-truth direction. Don’t be surprised if one day we are commanded by godless authorities not to speak or teach the truth. Will we, like the emissaries, be courageous enough and faithful enough to put the laws of God above the laws of the State – even if it means that we have to suffer for it?
When they had threatened them further, they let them go – even though they didn’t want to let them go, but they were forced to, for two reasons: (finding no basis on which to punish them), on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened; for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed. First, Peter and John hadn’t committed a crime. Second, if the Sanhedrin had kept Peter and John in prison, it would have looked bad to many of the people, and leaders are sensitive to the desires of the majority. Many of the people of Jerusalem were impressed by this miracle, and would have objected to punishing Peter and John for being part of it.
When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. Peter and John were strong. Would the rest of the community be as strong? Or, would they be intimated by the threats and yield to the pressure and compromise, deny the Messiah, or become silent? Or, would they be willing to disobey the authorities and engage in civil obedience in order to fulfill their Messianic mission to the world, even if it meant rejection of the majority of Israel and its leaders, and persecution? The existence of Messiah’s Saving Community, and its mission to bring the message of salvation to the world were at stake.
The Sanhedrin was powerful, and could cause them great harm. But, their Friend and Ally was more powerful, and more worthy to fear! They would need His help to not be intimidated and to stay true to their calling and mission. So, they prayed, one of the great prayers of the Bible. For that, Lord willing, we will need to come back next week!