The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. Acts 4:1-3
The scriptures are literary concentrate. Instead of adding water, we are meant to add both imagination and cultural study to develop the correct consistency. I want to apply a bit of imagination to this text because I believe it will unearth some different perspectives. If you are like me, when I read a story about the disciples in conflict with some religious leaders, I first see the story from the disciples’ perspective. That point of view is important but let’s look at this story from the perspective of the religious leaders.
Not long before this encounter, these same leaders encountered a threat named Jesus. Jesus was a threat because he continually undermined their authority. Not only that, Jesus questioned their interpretation of the scriptures, and he constantly told them they were misguiding the people. Jesus was threatening what they believed to be accurate and orthodox. Either Jesus was correct, or he was a heretic. They believed the latter.
Now imagine they eventually kill Jesus, but he rises again from the dead. This dangerous movement of Jesus’ followers is now threatening the Jewish faith again. It should be no surprise that we see these leaders demanding Peter be silent, and they must be shocked that this movement is still going after all they had done to quench it.
The question for us is, what do we do when we encounter an idea or teaching that feels threatening to us? Are we so obsessed with maintaining the familiar that we cannot see that the Holy Spirit of God is moving in a new direction? I know there are warnings in the scripture telling us to avoid false teaching, but may I suggest we often err on the other side.
Take a moment to ask God to open your eyes to His mighty work in the world. Take everything you believe about faith and hold it in His presence with open hands. You don’t need to set your belief aside; simply ask him to make you more aware of him and any new work he wants to do in you.
By Aaron Bjorklund