The packed room hushed in anticipation as Peter and John stood up to tell their story. Rumors had been flying all afternoon among the believers, and everyone wanted to hear for themselves if the incredible reports were true.
John motioned for Peter to speak.
“Friends! We are so happy to see you! Thank you for praying for us. As you know, two days ago we were arrested for sharing the message about Jesus in the Temple after we healed the crippled beggar. We spent the night in prison while you spent the night in prayer. We had no idea what would happen to us. John and I talked about what Jesus went through for us, and how great His love is for us, and we were both prepared to give our lives for Him.
“In the morning, we were brought before the council. They demanded to know by what power, or in whose name, that we healed the man.”
“And if you want to get Peter started,” John quipped, “just ask him a question like that!”
Peter laughed. “It’s true! I don’t know what it was—well, yes I do, it was truly the Holy Spirit that filled me—“
“He was preaching the word! I’ve never seen him like that!” John testified.
“I asked them if we were being questioned because we had helped a crippled man, and if they really wanted to know how he was healed. And then I told them, ‘Look I want to be as clear as possible about this—for you and all Israel. This man was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, the same one you crucified but God raised from the dead.’ And then I reminded them about the stone that the builder’s rejected, and how it became the cornerstone—and how that is Jesus. There is salvation in no one else, in no other name!” Peter’s voice raised in energy and pitch as he talked.
“Wow! What did they say, Dad?” Peter’s son blurted out from his mom’s lap nearby.
Peter smiled at his son, and his eyes widened. “They didn’t know what to say at first!”
“I think they were pretty shocked to see our boldness, because they remembered us as common fishermen. And I think they recognized that we had been with Jesus,” John said quietly.
Peter continued. “They sent us out of the room for a while and had a long discussion about what to do with us. We were praying, and I know you were still praying. We wanted Jesus to be lifted up no matter what. We overheard half of it—they couldn’t deny the miracle—everyone in Jerusalem knows about it. But they were afraid of us spreading our ‘propaganda.’ When they called us back in, they commanded us never to speak or teach in the name of Jesus again.”
The room had been buzzing up to this point but suddenly hushed again as Peter paused.
Finally Peter’s son couldn’t hold back any more, “What did you say, Dad?!”
John jumped in, “We said, ‘Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than Him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
Peter shook his head. “How could we say anything else? But of course, they didn’t like that answer. They threatened us more, but then they finally let us go because they didn’t seem to know how to punish us without starting a riot, since everyone was praising God about the healing. So…here we are!”
The room erupted in applause and cheering as everyone praised God for answering their prayers. Then one of the oldest men in the room stood, and the room quieted down.
“These are unprecedented times, my friends,” the man said as he stroked his long beard. “I believe God has a great work ahead—wonders we cannot even imagine. But I believe there is great trouble ahead too, just as Jesus promised.”
The believers, young and old, rich and poor, united in the Spirit, nodded in agreement.
Peter’s little boy stood up. “Should we pray, Uncle Samuel?”
The old man’s eyes twinkled as he and everyone in the room said, “Yes!”
“O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them,” Samuel’s voice was humble yet strong, confident. “You spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying,
‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.’
“In fact, this has happened here in this very city!”
“Amen!” sounded Peter and John in unison.
“For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
“Amen!” the believers ended the prayer together.
It was silent for just a few seconds, and then suddenly, the whole building began to shake! All the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit, and their prayers were answered. They preached the word of God with boldness.
When serving Jesus gets you into trouble, what do you pray for? Deliverance? Comfort? Peace? I think God understands. But do you want to shake a place and its people to the foundations? Then pray for boldness.
*This story is found in Acts 3-4. There are some quotes from New Living Translation in the dialogue.
Once or twice a month, we send out a short devotional to our volunteers. This was written by Andrea Keele, and was sent to our volunteers on July 13, 2017.