Acts 4

Vs. 3, “They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.”  Jesus’ prophetic words are coming true as the disciples are now experiencing persecution for their faith (Matthew 10).  Peter and John are arrested that evening, however, this does not deter many more coming to faith (vs. 1-4).  In our previous chapter, they had healed the lame man and were now preaching the gospel in the Solomon’s Colonnade.  The following morning, Peter and John stand before Annas (former high priest), Caiaphas (current high priest), and the Sanhedrin; the same people who tried Jesus just weeks earlier (vs. 5-12).  The Holy Spirit filled Peter and gave him the words to respond before them (Matthew 10:19)!  These were the very people who rejected Jesus, but now Peter calls them out.  The opponents were in a dilemma, for it was undeniable that a miracle had occurred with the lame man (vs. 13-22).  If they let them go, they may continue to share.  But if they condemn them, there may be a public riot.  In our application section, we will discuss the disciple’s response.  When Peter and John returned, the early church responded with great faith and courage (vs. 23-31).  Their response and prayer was so powerful, that place they met was shaken by God (vs. 31)!  And we close our chapter (vs. 32-37) with another reminder how the early followers voluntarily shared their possessions.  It’s notable that Barnabas is mentioned.  In the next chapter, we will see why this reminder was placed contextually.

Regarding application…Who Do We Obey?  Vs. 19, “But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.”  We should be respectful citizens of the country we reside in.  The Apostle Paul gave us the right perspective (Romans 13:1-7) as well as Peter (I Peter 2:13-17) in laying down the foundation of civil obedience.  However, there is a caveat: If your countries laws go directly against God’s word, than we must obey God first!  In most cases, this will not apply to us.  For example, if your country is banning bibles and meeting together for worship, you are justified in breaking such a law.  Please pray for wisdom from the Spirit of God in how you respond.  We should do our best to obey the laws of our land!

John 18

Vs. 1, “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.”  Many of us are quite familiar with Jesus and the disciples going to pray at the garden in Gethsemane (vs. 1-11).  Because the synoptic Gospel’s thoroughly cover the prayer, John gives us more details to the arrest that night.  It a dramatic scene as a detachment of Roman soldiers along with some of the chief priests and Pharisees come to capture Jesus.  Jesus’ response to affirm His identity was a revelation that caused the whole group of arresting men to draw back and fall to the ground (vs. 6)!  Jesus knew this was going to transpire and was ready.  Notice how the Shepherd was prepared to protect His sheep (vs. 9).  Upon the arrest, they first send Jesus to one of the former high priest, Annas (vs. 12-14, 19-24).  This is an unlawful interrogation and a violation of their own laws.  Meanwhile, Peter is fulfilling Jesus’ prophetic words that he will deny Him three times (vs. 15-18, 25-27).  In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 28-40), Jesus stands before Pilate the Roman Governor.  Though the Israelites had their own ruling council in the Sanhedrin, they did not have full autonomy from Rome.  They could not sentence a person to die (vs. 31), except for only law if a person violated the sanctity of the temple.  Pontius Pilate was known as a brutal man who controlled Judea with a strong arm.  Perhaps the Sanhedrin could uses his history of violence for their motive.  However, upon questioning Jesus, Pilate has found no reason to convict Jesus of their accusations.  We are informed in the Gospel of Luke that Pilate also sought a second opinion from Herod who ruled over Galilee.  Once his enemy, Herod didn’t find any reason to convict Jesus either.  In a final move, Pilate used the annual practice of granting pardon to a prisoner and surely though they would release Jesus over a Barabbas (vs. 39-40).

Regarding application…Are You Listening?  Vs. 37, “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  It is ironic that Jesus is seemingly on trial, but the tables are turned spiritually.  It is Pilate, the Jews, and all of us who are on trial.  Question: Will we accept the testimony of truth?  If we do not, we will stand condemned.  Which side are you on?  When Jesus speaks, those who believe will listen.  This past Sunday, the message at Roots was in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus called Matthew to follow him.  Matthew heard Jesus’ voice, the Shepherds voice and he followed him.  There are many voices in this world that will try to have you hear them out.  Take time today to drown out the noise and listen to the voice of truth!

John 18

Vs. 3, “So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.”  This is very difficult passage to read as we come face to face with Jesus’ last night before the crucifixion.  It touched my heart to be reminded how Jesus cared for the disciples (vs. 8 ) and was looking out for them.  The soldier’s take Jesus to Annas, who used to be the high priest years earlier.  He is the father-in-law of Caiaphas who is the current high priest.  They illegally arrest and interrogate Jesus.  They want Jesus dead so they take Him to Pilate, a Roman leader who had the authority to have Jesus crucified.  Part of Pilate’s role was to govern the Jews and keep peace, so there was definite pressure to appease the Jews.  Yet, Pilate could not find a reasonable reason that Jesus be crucified.  Mixed in this chapter, we see Jesus’ words come true with Peter’s denial of Jesus three times.  As Jesus was put on trial, Peter also had his own trials before him this night.  My heart goes out to Peter for this would be very bitter and sad moment for him.  But, in Peter’s failure, we will soon be reminded of God’s grace in dealing with second chances.

Regarding application…What is Truth?  Vs. 38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.”  A question posed by Pilate himself!  It’s one of those questions that mankind has been asking throughout the ages.  The truth Pilate asked was in the context of just who was Jesus?  Was He this false savior the Jews accused Him of?  Was this kingdom a real place?  Was Jesus a true king?  Pilate asks this question on behalf of all of us.  Question: Is Jesus telling the truth?  C.S. Lewis challenges us in his book Mere Christianity, that we must either decide Jesus was truly the Son of God or believe he was a madman or worse.  We can’t believe in half-truths and just say, Jesus was a good man or a good teacher.  The truth is will set us free.  Jesus is that truth (John 14:6)!