And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:1-12
Many years ago my dad and mom sold our mom-and-pop motel to someone who had little money and not much financial stability. To do so, they held a significant second mortgage from the man who bought it. When it became obvious, also, that he had little ability to run an enterprise such as that successfully as well. When the business failed, my dad sent me out to the motel offices to take over the operations. I went with the In assurance that I had the authority to go in and take over – all on the basis of my dad’s orders. A couple of phone calls later – including one to our family attorney – had me standing down. I was treading on dubious legal grounds at best. More likely I could have been arrested for trespassing!
In the case of Jesus and his disciples they took Jesus’ words completely to heart. He had said, at the Great Commission, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…” The disciples here are acting on the basis of that authority: They went to the temple and began not only praising God, but healing in Jesus’ name, and now explaining their answers by pointing people to Jesus’ resurrection.
When confronted by those who were supposedly in charge, they do not back down. In stead they give further witness to Jesus, and in the face of being arrested they do not back down. They are completely committed to the service of Jesus. When they are given the chance, the double-down and proclaim that it is only in Jesus’ name that miracles were being done, hope was being uncovered, and people were being saved.
There are many reasons that people would want to short-circuit the work of Jesus and the spread of his message. He lays a claim on people’s lives that goes beyond any other person or influence. Jesus messes with the lives of people who want to live on their own terms and with their own rules and chart their own courses apart from anyone telling them what to do.
Jesus’ rule in people’s hearts is not one of telling people to do or not to do certain things. But when Jesus rules in people’s hearts, deep changes occur. His love and salvation touches every part of people’s lives. It changes how we process life and every facet of our being. It may not be that we head out to the local temple or synagogue. It may not be that we stand on a corner and proclaim the truth of God’s word. But it may mean that we actually forgive those who have offended us. It may mean that we pray to God in Jesus’ name, with the hopes of God’s answers. It may mean that we give large amounts of money for the cause of the Gospel.
Whatever we do in faith in Jesus, believing his words and promises, we mark ourselves as those who believe Jesus. One day all will have to answer to him, for he has all authority in heaven and on earth. In the mean time as we act out of that faith, we are under the cover of his authority. And God’s salvation avails to us who claim the name of Jesus.