Saturday, April 14, 2007

Acts 4:13-31

I recently listened to the full audiotrack of the Gospel of John, a feature film from 2003 which used solely the text of that Gospel (and very dramatically and effectively). I was struck by-- how early on, how vehement, and how persistent was the opposition to the person and ministry of Jesus. The chief priests and elders were focused almost exclusively on ensuring their own continuation in power, and it didn't seem that they ever quite understood what Jesus was saying or doing--although they well understood how it could be a threat to them and to the uneasy balance of power that prevailed in 30 A.D.

They must have found it absolutely stunning that, after they had framed the conviction and execution of the charismatic leader of the movement, the followers were back preaching and performing miracles in Jesus' name! They must also have had some doubt about what exactly to do, because the Pentecost day converts' numbers were already a critical mass, and the movement was continuing to grow in size and bold visibility. They could hardly go back to Pilate or Herod and say that a new 'king' of Israel had emerged to succeed Jesus, because that was not the apostles' claim. Rather, the preaching was putting Jesus in an exalted place where the high priest could not possibly reach.

Their solution to the dilemma--"let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name"--seems incredibly weak. Perhaps they simply hoped that the movement would yet run out of steam. But there was a power at work that simply wasn't going away, a power that was manifest in earth and sky and especially in those people who had walked with the risen Jesus.

They simply weren't going to be quiet!

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