George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
Peter and John before the Council -- Part I
The priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus--Act 4:1, Act 4:2, Act 4:13
Miracle and Sermon Distasteful to the Rulers
An old writer has said that a miracle was like the bell before the sermon, it caught the attention of the people and brought them together for the preaching of the Word. Now that was true of the miracle at the Gate Beautiful. As with the summons of some clear-toned bell, it brought a vast congregation to the disciples. And in the closing part of the third chapter, we have the sermon that Peter preached to them. But the miracle and the discourse which followed it were very abhorrent to the ruling powers. They thought that they had triumphed over Jesus, and here was His cause more visible than ever. Peter and John were apprehended instantly. They were going to the Temple and were taken to prison instead. I think that Peter and John sang hymns that night as lustily as Paul and Silas did at Philippi. Then in the morning they were led before the rulers. The council of state was set, and they were stationed in the midst of it. And they were asked (as if the questioners did not know) by what authority or name they had done this. Peter, briefly, respectfully, and manfully, declared that the power had been the power of Jesus. He showed his auditors how prophecy was fulfilled. He declared that there was no salvation out of Christ. And though to the hearers this was hateful doctrine and though they would willingly have silenced it forever, yet there was the lame man--lame no more--among them, and that was an argument not to be gainsaid. What could be done? Was there no help for it? Could none devise means for stopping the rising tide? That most august and venerable council revealed their impotence in the course they took. They laid a charge on Peter and on John that the name of Jesus was not to pass their lips. They might as well have charged the breaking sea to cease its thundering when the tempest blew. Peter and John were bound to disobey. Even as Jews, must they not be loyal to God? So they were loosed, and being loosed, they went (as we all do) to their own company (Act 4:23).
Ready to Envy Others' Influence
Now the first thing that arrests us here is this, how ready we are to envy others' influence. You would have thought that the Pharisees and priests, having the interests of their land at heart, would have been heartily glad to get a lame man healed. You would have thought that they might have argued like this, "Whoever did it is a secondary matter; the great thing is that suffering has been ended, so let us all give thanks to God for that." Instead of that we read that they were grieved. They were heart-harassed; they were quite sick with envy. If one of their own rank had wrought the miracle, it had been well. But it was all wrong when Peter and John did it. Do you think that that spirit has quite died away? Sometimes we call that spirit party-spirit, but in its essence it is nothing less than envy. It would have been sweet if we could have done this or that, but--someone else has done it and it is torture. We must remember that God has many instruments. We must pray and struggle for a new humility. We must take as our spiritual motto that "God fulfils Himself in many ways."
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