I. THE SCENE: PETER AND JOHN ARE ENTERING THE TEMPLE AT THE AFTERNOON HOUR OF PRAYER WHEN THEY ARE ACCOSTED BY A LAME MAN SEEKING A HAND OUT. THIS MAN WAS NEVER ABLE TO WALK IN OVER FORTY YEARS OF LIFE.
A. Peter protested that they had no silver or gold, but was glad to share what he had, whereupon he commanded him in the name of Jesus to walk.
B. Lifting the man to his feet, he was instantly healed.
C. As the man began to walk and leap and praise God, he held on to Peter and John and a crowd began to gather.
D. The blind world as always seeks to worship the creature rather than the Creator, and they began to look in awe at Peter and John.
E. Peter seeks to turn their eyes from himself to Jesus Christ the one who had done the work of healing.
F. Taking advantage of the situation he begins to preach Christ unto them.
II. THE INTERRUPTION OF HIS MESSAGE. THIS BRINGS US UP TO CHAPTER FOUR.
A. The interrupters are the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees.
1. There were two main religious sects of the day, the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
a. The Pharisees taught and practiced the oral traditions. They were the chief instigators of the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus was continually violating, and putting down their traditions. He had accused them of making void the law of God with their traditions. It was His constant violating of their traditions that pertained to the Sabbath day that caused them to decide that He must be put to death.
b. The Sadducees on the other hand denied the supernatural, they affirmed the freedom of human will, and they held in contempt the teaching of the Pharisees. They did not believe in angels, spirits, or the resurrection. They were the modernists of the day, the rationalists. They had a natural explanation for every miracle of the Old Testament.
c. You can see how they became the enemies of the church and the chief persecutors of the early church. Notice that they were upset because of the preaching through Jesus of the resurrection. This was their chief problem.
B. It should be noted that the priests at this time were for the most part Sadducees. The high priest and his family were all Sadducees, and they controlled the priesthood.
1. The captain of the Temple was the chief officer to see that order was maintained in the Temple area.
2. The priests on hearing Peter preach, no doubt called for the captain of Temple to come and arrest Peter and John.
C. So he arrested them and put them in the prison till the next day.
1. Here we see the clashing of two diametrically opposed forces; the spiritual versus the material.
a. The disciples believed in the reality of unseen things, they will claim that Jesus is alive and with them, though now unseen by the world.
b. The Sadducees being total materialists must of necessity face this challenge, they both cannot exist, one of them must go. So they will seek to stomp out the church.
2. These issues continue to the present time. The war between the materialists and the spiritualists.
3. This war amazingly enough is in the church. There are many in high places in the church who are purely materialists, modern day Sadducees.
a. The state of Ohio had as their motto "With God all things are possible." A Cleveland Presbyterian Church (USA) minister fronted an ACLU lawsuit to remove this motto. Naturally, with our liberal federal court system, the motto was ruled unconstitutional.
b. You are well aware that the Supreme Court of the U.S. is fortunately not the real Supreme Court. Some day these judges will stand on trial before the true Supreme Court. But at the present time they are preparing to rule on whether or not the Boy Scouts should be forced to allow homosexuals to become scoutmasters. The United Methodist Church Board of Church and Society has filed a brief in the support of James Dale who has sued the Boy Scouts. It should be noted that the men's commission of the UMC has filed a brief in favor of the Boy Scouts. Other briefs filed against the Boy Scout position have come from the Unitarian Universalist Assoc. and the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, N.J.
c. All I can say for these denominations, the Disciples of Christ, the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, and in each of these denominations, they are excellent men of God, but when that body is so sick that it can no longer purge itself of the poisons, that body will soon die.
d. The battle still goes on between the liberals and the conservatives. The believers and the nonbelievers. God's word and the depraved concepts of man. The flesh and the Spirit will always be at war.
e. So it was then, so it is now. It is interesting to me that the carnal forces always seem to gain control.
III. "IT CAME TO PASS THAT ON THE MORROW THAT THEIR RULERS, AND ELDERS, AND SCRIBES AND ANNAS THE HIGH PRIEST, AND CAIAPHAS AND JOHN AND ALEXANDER."
A. This was one of those interesting times when they had two high priests.
1. Annas who was recognized by the Jews.
2. His son-in-law Caiaphas, who was a Roman appointee when Annas incurred the disfavor of Rome.
3. We know nothing of Alexander and John.
B. This was a meeting of the ruling religious council known as the Sanhedrin.
1. This council was composed of 71 men, it took 23 to constitute a quorum.
2. This incidentally was a legally called meeting, whereas the trial of Jesus by them was totally illegal.
3. It was probably stacked with the Sadducees.
C. The leading question. "By what power or by what name have you done this?"
1. This was a question designed to elicit self-incrimination.
2. In their law it said:
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death;
3. The healing of the lame man was surely a sign and wonder.
4. Peter puts the whole trial in perspective.
If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
a. All of this fuss has been created because a lame man is walking.
b. The charges are, "You made a lame man to walk?"
c. Basically Peter is saying, "How lame can your charges be?"
5. Peter filled with the Holy Spirit gave them a very powerful and bold witness.
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
IV. "WHEN THEY HAD PERCEIVED." BUT IN REALITY THEY WERE MISPERCEPTIONS.
A. That they were unlearned and ignorant men.
1. They were far from unlearned and ignorant. They had just come out of the greatest seminary in history.
2. Three years of almost 24-hours a day of personal tutoring by none other than the Author of the scriptures.
3. What a graduate school of theology they had been attending! I would put their knowledge of the scriptures above any of the Scribes or Pharisees of that day.
B. That they had been with Jesus. Wrong, their relationship with Jesus was not a past-tense relationship, it was a present-tense relationship.
1. Jesus had said, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
2. Jesus was standing with them at that moment. Though the council could only see three standing before them, there was actually the fourth standing with them, Jesus Himself.
3. The Lord always stands by His servants in their hour of trial.
4. Paul wrote to Timothy,
At my first hearing no man stood with me, but all [men] forsook me: [I pray God] that it may not be laid to their charge.
Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.
C. Make certain that you never have a past-tense relationship with Jesus.
1. Sure I am excited about what God has done in the past.
2. I am even more excited at what God is doing now.
3. I am most excited with what God is going to do, if we keep in that place where He can use us.
4. If there was ever a time in your walk with the Lord that you were walking closer to Him than you are at this moment, then you need to repent, for you are in a backslidden state.
5. I am not nearly as interested in what God did in your life 20 years ago, as I am in what God has done in your life today.
V. "AND SEEING THE MAN THAT WAS HEALED STANDING WITH THEM, THEY COULD SAY NOTHING AGAINST IT."
A. I think that the greatest witness that the church can have before the skeptical world is a lame man standing whole among them.
1. That is the great marvel of Calvary Chapel. So many formerly lame men now preaching the gospel in some of the largest churches in America.
2. What can you say?
3. They say that they are ignorant and unlearned, that is a misconception.
4. They are men who have been taught and anointed by the Holy Spirit.
5. Once again, God has chosen the foolish things of the world.