I read this morning in Acts 3 and 4 about a cripple being healed by faith in the name of Jesus and the subsequent arrest of Peter and John. The thing that disturbed the religious authorities wasn't so much the miracle (which they themselves describe as outstanding and undeniable), it was the the proclamation of Jesus. Specifically:
- In Jesus there is resurrection of the dead
- Jesus Himself is raised from the dead
- The stone they rejected has been made the capstone by God
- Salvation is found in no-one else and there is no other name by which people must be saved
The authorities respond by ordering them to stop speaking or teaching at all in the name of Jesus. They don't order them not to perform any more miracles. They don't insist on no more acts of compassion or healings. Simply that there is to be no teaching about Jesus. Peter and John replied that they can't help speaking about what they have seen and heard.
- Our society would very much like to stop people teaching and proclaiming Jesus, while at the same time welcoming acts of compassion and community initiatives from churches. It hasn't understood that we can't help speaking of what we have seen and heard of Jesus. It thinks it can seperate (and we can seperate) the societal benefits it wants from the message it hates
- It is all too easy for Christians to think that all we need to impact the world are miracles or acts of kindness or social transformation. The authorities in Acts weren't concerened to stop any of these. In and of themselves none of these are explicitly Christian; though, as in this case, they can certainly come from a Christian source. The thing that is explicitly Christian - and therefore that they are commanded to stop - is the proclamation that what has been done is in the name of Jesus, who is the resurrection from the dead and the only one in whom salvation is found