The Fourth Sunday of Easter – Stories of bravery and testimony (The Acts Passage as a Substitute for the Old Testament Passage)

The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John [not the disciple], and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is
the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’
There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:5-12)

The disciples’ actions had consequences, not just for the people they helped and ministered to but for the disciples themselves. Sometimes those consequences were openings to bring testimony and witness to their risen Lord. But sometimes those consequences were persecution and death. The stories of the early Christian church are filled with testimony and witnessing, and the believers being persecuted and put to death. They counted it as expected, since their Lord was also put to death.

This passage from Acts chapter 4 follows soon after the healing of the crippled, and that is the man that the “rulers, elders, and scribes” were inquiring about. The verses following verse 12 complete the story, and Peter and his companions were warned and threatened not to speak or teach about Christ any more. But we know that Peter and the other disciples did not heed that warning.

Are you as bold and brave, beloved reader? Would you be able to stand up against warning and threats from you civic leaders? Many Christians have, and such stories are a vital part of the stories of faith. It is especially poignant when it is believer against believer, where there is a division in the faith. There were some signs of that in the various early churches, just as there is a history of being bold and brave in teaching and preaching, there is a history of differences of opinion. The early church struggled with that issue, and those stories may be part of future lectionary readings.

May you, beloved reader, hold firm to your faith in the face of persecution and when given opportunities to give testimony may the Holy Spirit fill you! Selah!