Scripture: Acts 4:1-12
Key verses: (1-4) While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, 2much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. 3So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.
Reflection: You’ve got to wonder why, in the days just after the first Easter, so many people were annoyed by the good news of Jesus. Why did a message of a risen Messiah so frighten those who were supposedly waiting for that Messiah? Perhaps it was that the news of a Messiah whom God raised from the dead was ushering in a new kingdom. If the dead could be raised, and a suffering servant was the Son of God, then everything was upside down. Or perhaps, everything was about to be turned right side up. God was doing a new thing. And new things are threatening to those who are currently in positions of power.
The Sadducees, the priests, and the captain of the temple are threatened by the message of Peter and John. Though the disciples of Jesus preached with no intent to start a new church or synagogue, at this point, their message means the current religious authorities are no longer the authority. If common fishermen can suddenly command a crowd with the news that a carpenter from Nazareth was the Messiah, then the place of the religious leaders is at risk. The message must be stopped. So Peter and John are arrested. But look what God does…. about five thousand believed. The movement has begun.
In these days after Easter, where are we in this story? Are we among those 5,000, hearing the news in wonder, and signing on to follow? Are we standing with Peter and John, telling the gospel story so that others might know what we know? Or are we those who are in comfortable positions of power, and annoyed by anything that means we might have to change? Wherever we are, and however we respond in these post-Easter days, the good news is that God is still doing a new thing. Let us join in.
Prayer: God, you are still at work in the world, turning all things right side up. Help us find ourselves wherever you call your disciples to be. Open our lips to tell your good news. Open our hands to care for our neighbors. Open our eyes to see your kingdom work in the world. Open our hearts to continue to be molded into the body of Christ in and for the world. In the name of the risen Christ, we pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].