From fear to bravery
Updated: Oct 23, 2021
Description: Having fearfully denied Jesus, disciple Peter now boldly affirmed the resurrection, claiming to know God’s will better than the high priest!
The change in Jesus’ close disciple Peter was utterly amazing. Around forty days earlier, he’d been terrified that a servant girl would denounce him as a follower of Jesus. His fear had provoked the first of three denials. Now, Peter stood before the high priest and the ruling council (the Sanhedrin) bravely telling the nation’s religious leaders that they had stage-managed the death of the only person able to offer all people true salvation.
How did this situation arise?
A beggar triggered it (Acts 3.1-10). He was over forty years old and ‘lame’ from birth. Every day, people used to carry him to the temple gate (named ‘Beautiful’) and every day he would beg from those going into the temple courts. It was a good spot and, almost certainly, he was well known.
It’s easy to imagine that most people would have passed him by with hardly a glance, but on this apparently normal day there was going to be a miraculous ending. Peter and John arrived but didn’t pass by. They looked directly at the man and asked that he look at them. The beggar didn’t need to be told twice, no doubt assuming that he was in for a generous hand out.
It must have been crushing to see that neither Peter nor John was offering money, yet neither apostle was looking simply at the man’s short-term needs. After calling upon the name of Jesus, Peter took the beggar’s hand and helped him up. Instantly his feet and ankles became strong and he leapt up, able to walk with them into the temple courts, jumping about and praising God.
This all happened in a public place – a very public place. The man made such a spectacle of himself that he quickly drew a crowd to Peter and John. As people recognised the beggar, they became openly astonished, eager to hear what the apostles had to say. And Peter didn’t disappoint. He spoke out boldly about Jesus and the resurrection of the dead – and he was convincing because many who heard believed (Acts 4.4).
In fact he was so convincing, he caught the attention of the priests and temple guards – and they weren’t happy. Peter and John had been teaching about Jesus and the resurrection of the dead (and the Sadducee leaders denied any concept of an afterlife, unlike the Pharisees). Bottom line: they threw Peter and John into jail for the night.
Being locked up so early in their ministry could easily have knocked the disciples’ confidence, but no! They braved it out. Their appearance next day in front of the Sanhedrin rulers became a God-given opportunity to testify about Jesus – all the things they had personally witnessed. The Holy Spirit gave them the words and the bravery to speak out boldly.
And their boldness stunned the leaders. Ordinary men – not schooled in religious matters – had just told them that God had raised the Jesus they had crucified from the dead; that it was because of him that the beggar now stood before them, healed. Not surprisingly, this gave them a big problem.
Given the crowd of witnesses and the man’s presence in front of their eyes, they were unable to deny the miracle. All they could do was command Peter and John not to speak or teach about Jesus. But Peter and John had the last word. They asked, ‘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.’ (Acts 4.19-20).
Isn’t it remarkable how brave we can be when the Holy Spirit is guiding us! All we have to do is ask for his help.
The whole story is in Acts 3 & 4.1-22.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.