Acts 4. 23-31

Trying to ban the disciples from speaking about Jesus the Messiah had to be a bit like a fly trying to ban a lion from roaring. Peter and John went back and rejoined the community of believers and of course they reported back on all the court proceedings and verdict.

No one was fazed; no one was intimidated. They just did the most natural thing, the thing they had so often seen Jesus do when he walked the roads alongside them – they brought it all to God in prayer. It’s been lost in the mists of time now who took the lead in the prayer, but they all added their voices and it went something like this:

“Lord God who rules all things, you made heaven, earth, sea and every creature that inhabits them. Through David the prophet you commented on the nations of earth, how they rage and plot, but all to no avail; how the kings and rulers of the earth line up together against you and your anointed Messiah. We saw it when Herod and Pontius Pilate teamed up with Gentiles and Jewish people to conspire against your holy servant, Jesus, whom you anointed. They thought they were acting by their own will. But in fact all they were actually doing was carrying out the plan that your power and intention and prior knowledge had already determined on. And now they’re at it again! So, Lord, take note of the warnings they’ve issued and in the face of those threats embolden us, your servants, to speak what you tell us with fearlessness and confidence. Reach out through us and do even more incredible signs and supernatural deeds through the name of your holy son and servant, Jesus.”

If the rulers and scholars who made up the court officials could have heard this prayer, they would have been astonished and probably pretty unnerved, too. No doubt they hoped that, for all their bold words in the court room, Peter and John would have found being arrested a sobering experience, and would have limped home to lick their wounds. How little they understood the Holy Spirit’s enabling power.

And as if to underline that, no sooner had the words of the disciples’ prayer died away than the entire meeting place was shaken, the power of God vibrating powerfully through it. And once again, the disciples found themselves filled and overflowing with the Holy Spirit, and they went out and started boldly announcing whatever God gave them to say.

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