“Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.” And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened; for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.” (Acts 4:13-22).
The Sadducees had a long history of denying spiritual realities, such as angels, spirits, and the resurrection from the dead (Acts 23:8). Yet, they found themselves facing a 40-year-old miracle whom everyone knew and who could answer any question they could produce. The fact was undeniable that a paralytic man had been healed and was standing in front of them. His healing had caused such a stir precisely because he was so well known. He’d been a daily fixture at the temple gate. For years, people stepped over him, averted their eyes from him, and ignored his requests for help. Occasionally, someone would even throw him some loose change or maybe some scraps. Yet, there he stood on his own two feet, profusely praising God for healing him.
Tragically, the Sadducees’ hatred for Christ had so perverted their thinking that they could not accept the irrefutable lesson the miracle expressed, namely, that Jesus Christ reigns as the risen, Lord of all creation and is worthy of all praise. Conferring among themselves, they admitted the fact of the miracle, but could not accept its conclusion regarding Christ. Instead, they reasoned, “But so that it (i.e., the news of the miracle) will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.” The miracle itself was a non-issue for the Sadducees. They cared nothing about the man’s well-being or the potential for any common benefit for society. Their only concern was to suppress the fame of Jesus Christ.
Another miracle took place at the same time in Jerusalem. Peter and John were fishermen by trade and upbringing. They had no formal training and education, and yet, the Sadducees noted that they had been with Jesus. Having been with Jesus changed the lives of the apostles far more than the physical change the paralytic had experienced. They were confident in Christ. They could articulate His teachings as ably as He had done; and they were resolved to continue to do so. The change Christ had wrought in them was as undeniable as the change in the paralytic. Peter exhorted the priests to go ahead and pass judgment on the work of God. Meanwhile, the apostles would continue to preach the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.
Many of my high school teachers and college professors openly stated their apathy toward belief in God in general, or faith in Christ in particular, “as long as…” then they’d argue for evolution, atheism, or some other pet religious view. In other words, as long as I’d deny Christ as Lord, they were pleased to let me believe anything else I wanted.
Much like the paralytic, though, I was a living miracle myself. I had been dead in my transgressions, but God mercifully and graciously made me alive together with Christ. I didn’t just change my mind, God gave me a new heart that beats with love for Christ and His church. The miracle God wrought in my life may not be as physically demonstrable as it was for the paralytic, but for me, it’s as undeniable as it was for the paralytic.
Not everyone is physically healed, but everyone who comes to faith in Christ is undeniably changed. Love for sin succumbs to love for Christ. Promoting self gives way to glorifying God. May God grant His church today an undeniable resolve to make much of Christ despite the rising tide of prejudice against the name of Jesus.