Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Rock

No, I am not writing about Dwayne Johnson, or the Nicolas Cage movie about Alcatraz. I'm talking about Cephas (Aramaic for "rock) - Simon Peter - the rock upon which Jesus built his Bride - the Church.

I'm now in Acts 5, having just read through Acts 3 and 4 this morning. Powerful stuff.

Peter and John are heading into a prayer service at the Temple, when they see a lame beggar at the gate. The beggar is wanting money. His goals fall far short of what Peter and John have in mind. Peter responds to the beggar, saying, "I don't have money, but I will give you what I do have."

He tells the beggar to stand up and walk in the name of Jesus. And, that is exactly what the man does...for the first time in more than 40 years! The man is jubilant, and proceeds to walk into the Temple with Peter and John. Of course, the crowd takes notice immediately. The dude who has been lying at the foot of the gate to the temple for decades is now up on his feet. Incredible.

Here's what scripture then tells us: Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. (Acts 3:12 NLT)

Peter had not just commanded the man to get up and walk in Jesus' name for kicks. He didn't do it simply to show compassion, or because he felt bad for the guy. He used God's healing power to open a door. He preached boldly to the people there who witnessed this miracle, proclaiming God's glory, while insisting he himself had not given this lame beggar the ability to stand up.

Following his sermon, Peter and John were arrested by the temple priests and Sadducees, and imprisoned overnight. The next day, the were brought before the Jewish high council, where they were essentially asked one question: "By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?"

I guess they weren't listening closely to Peter's message (though I doubt that was the case). Perhaps they expected Peter to fess up that he was pulling a Houdini. But Peter, the most outspoken of the disciples, stated clearly who healed the man: "He was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead."

Despite the overwhelming evidence, the religious leaders refused to believe in Christ, and did all they could to thwart the message the apostles were bringing to the people. They gave Peter and John a stern warning, commanding them to never teach in the name of Jesus again.

And, Peter replied exactly as we would have expected him to. "Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than Him?" (Acts 4:19 NLT)

And, that's the question each of us need to ask ourselves often, but are often too afraid to.

But it all goes back to Peter not only seeing an opportunity, but doing something when he had the chance. We cannot let these opportunities slip by when eternity hangs in the balance.

Show compassion and mercy. Live with integrity and character. Then, allow God to use your witness to influence others to know Him.

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