Following the healing of the lame man, Peter preached again to a multitude in Jerusalem, and over 5000 men, women and children responded to his message, receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives (Acts 4:4). The Jewish Sanhedrin comprised of the chief priests and other leaders were outraged by the message about Jesus and the response of the people, and therefore they brought Peter and John in to question them. Following the interrogation, they came to the conclusion we find in today’s text. They were determined to keep Peter and John and the other disciples from telling people about Jesus.
Question – “Can you think of some situations in your life and around the world where people are hostile and resistant to any mention of Jesus, and the salvation He offers?” Much of the world is hostile to some degree to hearing about Jesus and His wondrous salvation. In nations where Islam, Buddhism, Hindu and Animistic religions prosper, it is oftentimes forbidden to teach or preach about Jesus. In “enlightened nations” where science, reason and pleasure are valued over God and religion, or in “religious Christian” countries where religion and tradition are revered more than the Bible, it is oftentimes forbidden to teach or preach about Jesus. In countries where there is some freedom of religion and speech, it is oftentimes forbidden or frowned upon to teach or preach about Jesus, or even to pray to the Lord in many arenas.
Second Question – “Are you allowed to talk about or pray to the Lord where you work or go to school – and if not, what are the reasons for prohibiting the mention of Jesus?” It has been my observation that when the Gospel of Jesus is proclaimed and people respond to His offers of salvation, forgiveness, healing, peace and provision, positive transformation is experienced by people in their lives, homes, workplaces, schools and even cities. Has that been your experience?
Third Question – “If hearing about Jesus and experiencing Him is a positive thing, why is the mention and teaching of Jesus so prohibited in our world today?” Some people don’t want to hear about Jesus because their pride or ignorance causes them to think that their way or their religion is the better way. Other people avoid Jesus because they don’t want to give up their self-centered lifestyles — lifestyles of hedonism, materialism and humanism. Some people don’t want to hear about Jesus because of the hurt and disillusionment they have experienced as a result of their encounters with professing Christians which is a reminder to us of how carefully we must live our lives and treat others. Some people don’t want to hear about Jesus because the painful experiences they’ve had in life have caused them to think that God has rejected or abandoned them, or because they have believed the lies of the Devil or the secular humanists of our day. Some people don’t want to hear about Jesus because they’ve already chosen to be on the Devil’s side.
Regardless, however, of why people don’t want to hear about the Lord, we have a mandate from Jesus to tell people about Him anywhere and everywhere. He said in Acts 1:8: “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about Me everywhere.” In our text we find that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, and therefore was proclaiming to both the receptive and the hostile crowd the greatness and grace of the Lord. When we are living daily in the power of God’s Spirit, we will be doing the same. We will be telling people “the wonderful things we have seen and heard.”
As you pray today: 1) Pray for the Lord to give you His power and boldness, that you may be a witness for Him in every hostile environment; 2) Pray for the people you meet in those hostile environments, and pray for the Lord to give you insight as to why they reject the Lord; and 3) Pray for other Christians around the world in hostile environments, asking the Lord to bless, utilize and protect them.