Today’s readings … Deuteronomy 13&14, Ecclesiastes 6, Acts 3&4
Have you ever been greatly annoyed? Of course you have! It’s human nature. Sometimes such feelings are justified, sometimes not. We read today in Acts Ch 4 of a group of people who were “greatly annoyed.” Why? Ch. 3 tells us of a most remarkable healing of a man of over 40 years of age who had been lame from birth and had to be carried around. All the people knew him because his friends brought him to the gate of the temple every day. There he received alms (gifts) from generous hearted people, he was someone everyone knew.
Peter and John go up to the temple at the hour of prayer (3pm) and, because of the power they received on the day of Pentecost they are able to perform a remarkable healing; this gives them a tremendous opportunity to preach. The rest of the chapter summarises what was preached and, today, their message has lost none of its power!
Chapter 4 starts, “As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple came upon them.” They are “greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead and they arrested them and put them in custody”[v.1,2]. “It was already evening” (at least 6pm) so what a remarkable 3 hours or more it had been in the temple precincts!
Why were these ‘high powered’ men so greatly annoyed? The next day they say how “astonished” they are at the “boldness” of the Peter and John. [v.13]. Not just those who arrested them but all the other high powered figures had come together (elders, rulers & scribes and the whole high priestly family, v.5-6) to seek a way to silence them. Their boldness is in total contrast to about 2 months previously when they arrested Jesus. Their great annoyance was because of the way they had captured the attention of 1,000s of people, worse still it was in their domain of prestige – in the Temple. They refused to stop preaching – so how great the annoyance of these authorities as Peter and John declare, “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard”. [v.20]
The “powerhouse” of true Christianity had now been launched on the world, and the world has never been the same since. Later equivalents of these annoyed people have tried to dim that powerhouse over the centuries, in the Middle Ages they put to death some who preached what the Apostles preached. Equally as bad, others have corrupted the true force of the message and preached “a different gospel” [Gal. 1 v.6-9]. But the Bible is now in every language for all to read. It challenges them as to whether they feel stirred to the heart, as this is what happened in the Temple. People are either stirred, annoyed, or just indifferent. How does it affect you?