|Vol. 15 No. 11 November 2013||
Gary C. Hampton
Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, the highest political force among Jews, on the day after the lame man was healed. They asked the apostles how they had healed the lame man. Peter, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” answered with a defense of Jesus’ power as the resurrected Lord. Through Jesus, the one they rejected and crucified, the man was made well. He quoted Psalm 118:22 to show that they had rejected the very stone chosen by God to be the head of the corner. Anyone who would ever receive spiritual healing or salvation would only do so under the authority of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:5-12).
The council saw that Peter and John, who had not been trained by the rabbis, dared to interpret Scripture with great boldness. It was evident “they had been with Jesus.” All Christians should live so that others can say the same about them. Most damaging of all, the council could not refute the miracle because the formerly lame man stood before them and reports of the healing were widespread. Neither were they able to refute Peter’s arguments for the resurrection of Jesus, but they needed to stop the preaching of Jesus before more of the people turned to follow Him. They threatened the apostles again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus (4:13-18).
The apostles said the council had no authority to countermand God’s command. They were compelled by the power of the things they had witnessed to proclaim to all the good news. The Sanhedrin had no other recourse but to let the apostles go without any further punishment. They threatened and released them rather than risk the people taking the apostles’ side. Undeniably, a man who had been lame forty years was now walking (4:19-22)!
Peter and John went back to their companions and related the whole story. Everyone lifted up their voices in praise to the Almighty Creator. They asked the Father to give them the strength to preach the truth in spite of the threats of the Sanhedrin. They also asked God to continue to work miracles through them to demonstrate the authority of Jesus Christ the Lord. The place was immediately shaken, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to preach the Word with boldness (4:23-31).
[Editor’s Note: We who preach the Gospel today need to be compelled to preach with no less conviction than evidenced in the apostles of Christ. Further, especially when we preach, it ought to be evident to our auditors that we have been with Jesus. If either we are not compelled to preach or it is not apparent that we have been with Jesus, then we are ill-prepared to preach anything – and certainly ill-prepared to preach the Gospel of Christ. ~ Louis Rushmore]
The attitude: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Hunger and thirst are two of the most pressing drives of the human body. Jesus used an example that man understands. Here they show how great our desire must be for righteousness. Righteousness is doing right or doing God’s will. Righteousness can be described as ‘the condition acceptable unto God.’
Righteousness results from doing right or doing God’s will. God commands only that which is right. Therefore, when we do what God commands, we are doing right. When we do right as God gives the right, we are doing righteousness.
The Christian and Righteousness: Those that are born of God practice righteousness (1 John 2:29). The new man is created in righteousness (Ephesians 4:24). Righteousness comes by faith (Hebrews 11:33; Philippians 3:9). God loves righteousness (Hebrews 1:9). The righteous shall inherit eternal life (Matthew 25:46).
A Christian must desire righteousness. That desire must be intense or great. A Christian’s attitude toward truth and right will determine the kind of character he will become. The attitude on which Jesus pronounces a blessing is that of hungering and thirsting for a higher life, a spiritual life and a life that is in Christ.
The reward: They shall be filled. They will be satisfied with righteousness. The righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel (Romans 1:16-17). God has a divine plan for bringing sinners to the state of righteousness (John 8:32). Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will find that the Gospel supplies all of their needs (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Revelation 22:17).