Not too long before the events in these passages take place, the same Sanhedrin in these verses managed to put Jesus to death. Now, they seem almost speechless by the healing of the beggar (in Acts 3) by Peter. They can’t even make up their minds on how to punish Peter and John so they let them go.
How can such a change occur? I think two things were at work here. First, I believe that these occurrences were not random, but were brought about by God. They were part of His plan for starting the church. He allowed the beggar to be healed. It was the Holy Spirit that filled Peter and because of Peter’s testimony, 5,000 people were brought to Christ then and there. While hindsight is 20/20, it is clear that these were God events and not man-made.
The second thing I think was at work at that time was that Peter and John had only their faith to give them the courage to do what they did in Acts 3 and 4. They didn’t have to go to the temple in Jerusalem, the very place where Jesus was condemned to die. But Peter and John were all about following God’s plans, regardless of where that led them. They had total faith that they were doing God’s work and that God would either protect them or take them home to be with Jesus.
These events illustrate the fact that following God’s instructions can be painful. To maintain your faith and do what God is calling you to do takes a lot of prayer. If you are about to do something that is very difficult to do for a close friend or relative, something that makes you anxious and worried, but you know you must do it, wouldn’t you want to talk about it a lot to that person? Wouldn’t you want to talk through the action, what will happen before, during and after? How it will feel, etc.? That’s why you should pray all the time. Keeping the lines of communication to God open is the key to knowing His plan and following His plan, no matter how painful or where it takes you.
While I was on the mission trip to Africa this summer, I experienced knowing and doing God’s plan. We were told to pray about what God would have us do one afternoon. I spent about 30 minutes asking God, through prayer, what He would have me do. I had a strong feeling that I was to go to one of the bleakest townships in George, a neighborhood called Conville, and prayer walk. It was not a particularly safe place to go, nor was prayer walking something I had done much of, but I felt very strongly that God wanted me to do this. Then I ran into a bunch of obstacles. I was told I could not go without a man with me (we only had a few among us to begin with and they all were working on another project), plus, at the moment there was no transportation. I became very upset because I really felt that I needed to be in Conville. Within minutes, one of the men in our group said he would go (Deb Vereb also wanted to go) and the van returned from wherever it was and we were off to Conville. We prayer walked for hours and I had, again, the strongest feeling that I was truly doing the Lord’s work. I felt invincible in that knowledge. It was truly a God-thing.