How should we respond to opposition our faith? How do we respond to the creeping pressure to privatise faith or keep quiet about Jesus? What do you do when those instructions come from those in authority over us whom God says we should respect?
Those questions and situations are nothing new. Witnessing to Jesus has always led to one of two reactions; hostility and opposition or acceptance and faith. We see that here in v1-4. Peter and John have healed the lame man and proclaimed Jesus as risen Messiah and Saviour to the gathered crowd. Jesus healed the man proving he is alive and at work, and they have called on everyone to repent and find forgiveness, be filled with the Spirit and live looking forward to Jesus return.
Now we see the reaction. in v1-3 the priests, Sadducees and temple guards are troubled, why? Firstly the Apostles are teaching people in the temple courts and that’s their job, they were supposed to be the authoritative teachers of God’s word. And secondly the Apostles are proclaiming that Jesus is alive again and at work and that Jesus resurrection is just the beginning. So they arrest them. Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ brings opposition, it did for the Old Testament prophets, it did for Jesus, it does for the Apostles and the early church, so it will for us.
But v4 is an astonishing verse. The leaders reject and oppose “But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.” The fledgling church of 120 from Acts 1 is now over 5,000 men. Jesus is alive and at work, the Spirit is empowering, proclaiming and convicting and people are being saved.
God is at work to grow his kingdom. Even as the face opposition God is still at work. We need that same conviction as we face pressure to privatise our faith, to go silent.