There was quite a gathering when Peter and John were brought out from the cells next morning – rulers of the people, elders, teachers of the law, and the High Priest, Ananias himself, together with the senior men from his family. Some of the faces bore scarcely-concealed glee at the prospect of shutting down this new sect once and for all. Others displayed anger at what they perceived as a threat to their authority. No doubt others felt a genuine fascination or curiosity at what had occurred.
The questioning opened with, “By what power, or in whose name did you do this?”
Peter, calm and at peace with himself in a way that can only come from knowing that the Holy Spirit is giving you the words to speak, replied, “Who would have thought that an act of kindness towards a disabled man would have been a matter for being brought before a court of law! Still, since that’s the way it is, let me make this clear to you and all my fellow Israelites, it’s by the name of Jesus the Messiah from Nazareth – the one whom you crucified but God raised from the dead – that this man stands in front of you completely healed of his disability.”
There were some indignant snorts and some uncomfortable shuffling from the assembled court. “You could say,” he continued, “that the stone you builders tossed scornfully aside as useless has become the most important cornerstone.”
Impervious to the indignation on the faces that confronted him, Peter carried on, “I’m telling you, salvation and wholeness won’t be found in anyone else. There isn’t any other name anywhere under heaven that’s been given to humanity for our salvation and wholeness except this name.”
The indignation and anger now began to give way to astonishment. These learned experts in the law recognised that they were facing ordinary unschooled peasants in Peter and John, and yet their courage was quite extraordinary. They couldn’t help but see the connection between this and the fact that they had been keeping company with Jesus. And if they’d just been confronting a new idea or philosophy, they with all their learning could have torn them to shreds. But the fact was, there was a congenitally disabled man standing in front of them completely cured and they could hardly argue with that! So they sent Peter and John out of the courtroom while they held a discussion among themselves.
“What on earth do we do about this?” they pondered. “Everyone in Jerusalem knows about it by now. These men have done an outstanding miracle, and it’s pointless to try and deny it. The most we can do is suppress it so these ideas don’t spread any further. We must ban them from speaking to anyone in this name from now on.”
So they summoned Peter and John again and delivered the verdict of the court, that they were banned from now on from doing any teaching or speaking in the name of Jesus. But, court verdict or no, Peter and John didn’t just take it lying down. They responded, “You make up your own minds what God would really want us to do when the choice is to obey either you or Him. Because we know what we’ve seen and heard with our own eyes and ears, and we can’t help telling people about it.”
Such defiance was certainly not the response the court had expected, but nor was there a lot they could do about it. There would have been a backlash if they had punished the men for doing what everybody in the city perceived as an act of kindness. In fact, it was so indisputably a miracle, that the entire population was giving praise to God for it. After all, this man had been disabled from birth and was now over forty years old. It wasn’t as if he had just got better naturally, it had clearly been a supernatural event.