After facing the hard eyes and threatening looks of authority, Peter and John returned to concerned loved ones who had feared for their safety. What happened in the prayer that followed in Acts 4:23-31 challenges Christians in our society.
The prayer is important because it’s the first record of prayer AFTER the intrusion of Jewish leadership in apostolic affairs. And because of the response of those early Christians to threats against their lives.
Having heard Jesus say that his word would surface inevitable opposition, John 15:18-25, the apostles accepted Sanhedrin rejection. If Jesus wasn’t exempt from that struggle, the apostles wouldn’t be. If they didn’t ask to be, why would we? When Jesus said blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, Matthew 5:10. why would we consider appreciation an asset? When they secured, at great cost, the spiritual life we possess, why would we expect to preserve it without cost in our depraved age?
The apostles and friends asked God to “consider” the threats against them. The word means
“look” or “behold.” We could say “take note.” Then, getting to the heart of the matter, they prayed for boldness in preaching and for continuing miracles in Christ’s name. In essence, they prayed to boldly and fruitfully, publicly and daringly do what they had been forbidden to do at all!
May we aspire to be worthy of their example and of their fellowship. Let us pray to God for the courage to preach Jesus Christ boldly when people want something less preached quietly. Then let us reinforce the message with lives of integrity. The unsaved may reject Christ’s message—and Christ himself—but let us strive to live in such harmony with our teaching and preaching that they can’t use us as an excuse to disbelieve!
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