A lone individual in defiance of the ruling powers and fueled only by the Holy Spirit, Peter took charge. He stood before the people and pronounced the faith. He walked among the needy and laid hands upon the infirmed. He comforted and he healed. In opposition to the authorities, he preached the word of Christ. Through his actions, the congregation grew.
When arrested because he was deemed a threat to the establishment, he chastised his accusers for their insidious acts:
“It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts of the Apostles 4:10 – 12)
The authorities were astonished at his courage and conviction. How could an illiterate and ordinary man become a leader among the people? Having no recourse, they sought to intimidate Peter into submission by warning him never to preach the word of Christ again. But Peter rebuked them saying:
“Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Christ? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19 – 20)
He was released and returned to the other disciples. He told them of the threats made against followers of Jesus Christ. In solidarity, their voices called out:
“Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one. (Acts 4:26)
While nations raged against one another in their vain pursuit of earthly riches, the believers came to be of one heart and one mind. They testified to the resurrection of Jesus. They tended to the poor as Jesus had commanded. They cared for one another and shared with one another. Though they were bereft of possessions, they were abundant in faith. The rulers of the world tried to stop them. But the apostles would not be stopped, would not be silenced, and would not quit. They delivered the word of Jesus Christ to the people as they overcame oppression and as they endured deep suffering.
While nations raged, the glory of Christ led the faithful to the truth of eternal life. With Jesus in view, they turned away from the divisions of the world and opened their heart to the healing power of God’s grace. And their message echoed among the people of every nation.
And the congregation grew.
These Gospel stories are re-imagined in the book series:
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