Truly Forgiven: Facing Unimaginable Odds, Part 24

by | Apr 12, 2019 | Easter, Facing Unimaginable Odds, Forgiveness, Witnessing

As we have seen in our last devotional, Peter and John, under the influence of God’s Holy Spirit, had healed a man crippled since birth. It caused a lot of commotion, as people all around them knew beyond a doubt that it was a miracle. What surprised these people is that Peter boldly declared that this cripple had been healed “by faith in the name of Jesus.”

Now the real battle was coming forth with a vengeance. The priests and the captain of the temple guard showed up, and believe me, they were not there to congratulate those pioneers of faith. Instead, “They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 4:2, NIV2)

That was truly a “no no”, and before they knew it, both John and Peter found themselves in prison. This is the kind of thanks they received.

The next day, both disciples were brought to the high priest and his entourage. The high priest had but one question: “By what power or what name did you do this?” (Acts 4:7b, NIV2) Again, there was no “thank you” to these pioneers of faith. Instead, they were being brewed in a cauldron of malice and hate.

Both disciples could have easily gotten a “Get out of jail free” by not testifying about the reality of Jesus. No way! They were boldly filled with God’s Spirit and declared: “If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” (Acts 4:9-10, NIV2)

This was truly blasphemous in the ears of the high priest and his entourage. If he could have done so, he would have exterminated them right on the spot. It didn’t help when they continued their speech by saying: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, NIV2)

The only problem is that there had been a miracle that many had witnessed. Killing these men would topple the religious authority of the day! In addition, it is even harder to proclaim that Jesus never was resurrected, when his dead body could not be brought forth! Had it not been for these two facts, the apostles would have definitely been stoned.

The truth of the matter was, everyone, including the high priest’s entourage, realized that these men were not only filled with conviction and courage, but they were also unschooled, ordinary men. And these simple men had done a miracle that could not be explained, except through the power of Jesus.

The high priest had a big dilemma. He could not let these men continue broadcasting the power of Jesus, but at the same time, “Since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.” (Acts 4:14, NIV2) They had no choice but to let them go, on the condition that they stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus.

Many of us would say “OK! We were lucky this time!” This was not the case with Peter and John. Jesus was too real for them to become closed lipped. Instead they responded: “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20, NIV2)

Interestingly enough, the high priest could not enforce his decision. He could only utter some threats. That day, many discovered that there was much more about Jesus that they knew. A victory had been obtained. Had the disciples decided to remain silent, no one would have been the wiser of what truly happened. An opportunity would have been missed.

Even now-a-days we are encouraged to remain mum about what we have experienced through Jesus, the Christ. But truly, how could we ever remain silent if Jesus is making such an impact in our lives? We, too, get threats. “You could lose your job!”, “You will be ridiculed!”, “People will think you have a screw loose.” Are we truly that shallow to worry about such intimidations?

As long as we depend on God’s Holy Spirit, we can make an impact on others with our testimony. God’s Spirit will guide us in innovative ways to proclaim what we have experienced. Take, for example, one of the teachers I know. He had a motivational system based on fake money that motivated his students. The positive actions were awarded with fake money. The ones who acted silly ended up with fake debts, and several of his students had significant amounts of debt by Easter.

As it was Easter, he was inspired by the Spirit to be innovative. He asked his students what Easter was about. Some talked about the Easter bunny, but no one in his class truly believed in that. Soon some of his students talked about the sacrifice Jesus did on the cross and about his resurrection, so that we could experience eternity.

“But why is this so important to many people?” The teacher asked.

One students smiled and said boldly: “Through Him we have been forgiven.”

The teacher then looked in the eyes of every student he had and declared: “As this is Easter, I have no choice but to share with you what Easter truly means: All of you who are in debt, you have been forgiven of your debt. You are now debt-free!”

“What do you mean?” Puzzled the students.

The teacher took his eraser and erased the debt of each student, one by one. Never did you hear such joy in a classroom. Before the teacher knew it, he was surrounded by students who, with tears in their eyes, hugged him, uttering two words: “Thank you”.

These students will always remember what Easter truly means. Without uttering a word about Jesus, that teacher touched the very heart of his students.

Will we do anything less, especially since we are experiencing Jesus fully? The secret in all of this is to not rely on our own power, but on God’s power through His Holy Spirit. You, too, can make an impact in your neighborhood. After all, as Jesus is truly real, we are assured that we are truly forgiven through His merits.

Rob Chaffart

(To access the entire “Facing Unimaginable Odds” devotional series, please click here.)


Truly Forgiven: Facing Unimaginable Odds, Part 24