Yesterday, we saw three important ruling authorities in first century Judaism allied against Peter and the Christian movement. We asked you how each group responded. The strongest response is from the Sadduccess, the ruling council.
Why are they so upset? They were challenged by three things:
1. The Resurrection
…greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
The Sadducees did not believe in a supernatural resurrection, of the Jewish variety or otherwise. At their worst, they could see their religion as something useful, not something true. Like Richard Dawkins, who has recently said he still values “the ceremonial side of religion” while not believing in miracles. Then along came Peter and friends, claiming something supernatural happened, with hundreds and thousands of witnesses. This challenged their doubt. How often does this happen today?
2. The Power
…they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”
The power in the Christian message was evident since there was a healed man standing there as proof. The rulers can’t avoid that something incredible has happened – a man is walking, having once sat around begging in the temple they know so well. Now he’s walking, there is no doubt, so they want to know who Peter and John are working for. In so doing, they’ll trap Peter. They’re hoping he’ll say the healing power came from himself, from another god, from nature, anything but Yahweh, the God of Israel, so they can charge him with blasphemy. Peter comes up with an answer they hadn’t thought of yet – he says it is in Jesus’ name, but that God raised Jesus from the dead. It’s in Jesus’ name, but clearly that is a name God favours, while the Sadducees do not. He puts them in a bind! If they have a problem with Jesus, they have a problem with their own God.
3. The Boldness
…Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13 ESV)
Here we can see the powerful ruling elite shaking as their power is threatened. Peter and disciples don’t seem to be afraid of them. They don’t cower in their presence. They are acting as if they are rabbis, religious teachers, when they are really just simple fishermen. Even a simple rabbi should be quoting the teaching of others, but they are simply teaching about Jesus, who was equally uneducated and poorly footnoted.
Question: Have you ever seen Christian teaching receive similar reactions today? How?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]