A Teachable Moment for an Edgy Message

Devotional thoughts for June 2016

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... where I discuss the thinking that led to this article.)

“….then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10–12, NIV)

Peter spoke boldly on that day — and why not: He had just healed a man who was lame from birth. But this was not just any man; this was he who sat daily at the temple gate… and this “fixture” asked alms of Peter. But instead of giving him some coins, Peter evoked the name of Jesus Christ for his healing… and the man rose to his feet… and began walking and leaping and praising the Lord! Who in Jerusalem would not have heard of this miracle? And who would doubt its veracity? He who was well-known to be lame suddenly leaped with vigor — and he praised God with decidedly public joy.

Since multitudes beheld the miracle, why would Peter not speak boldly… I mean, God had just raised his platform! But the Father had done this for Jesus, too — performing so many public miracles that even the Pharisees were sure that God had sent him (Jn. 3:2). But now it was Peter’s turn. What would he do with this opportunity?

We must remember that Jesus drove the religious establishment to distraction — but they finally got rid of this “Son of God”… but now this… a healing in his name! This had to be a knot-in-the-stomach moment for the anti-Jesus crowd. But feelings aside, why did they did put Peter in jail overnight? Did they think that a breather might help contain the situation — because it didn’t. That pause gave Peter a chance to clear his throat; it gave people time to ponder the miracle… and it probably facilitated some Pharisaic introspection. But most critically, it set-up one of the great teachable moments of all time.

The Bible contains several “teachable moments” — where an expectation hovered over the people — where questions were raised and answers were expected — where much was on the line — where all faces were turned to the accused — ears opened, eyes wide, and minds racing… ready to pounce on an answer. Did the council think that one night was sufficient for the people to forget that he who was lame from the womb could now walk? That he who sat at alms — and whom they passed by daily — could now walk among them?

Miracles have two effects: For those who “have eyes to see and ears hear,” miracles testify to the hand of God. But to those who are spiritually blind, they stupefy… they stun! So, the council, thus stupefied, acted… well… stupidly. They stubbed their toes on Jesus again — but this time by creating a public-relations nightmare!

So the next day (and with every eye upon him) what did Peter preach? He preached Christ, of course… but not just the Christ: Peter preached the singularity of Christ as the way to heaven… but in a religiously pluralistic world, that message cut to the core.

The Jews knew about Jesus, of course… who didn’t? But they went on with their lives in spite of his claims. After all, God himself set them up with the Law, the Temple — their entire way of life. What could it hurt to continue in them… even though this prophet, Jesus, walked among them claiming to be their Messiah? In this, Peter’s message cut to the quick: Jesus Christ was the only name under heaven whereby any person might be saved. He was a stumbling-block to the Jews — and he is still a stumbling-block today.

Peter was very familiar with these difficulties. Perhaps this is why he used his teachable moment just the way he did. You see, the miracle had put everyone in a corner. Peter just made sure that they had to walk over the stumbling-block to get out. Now that’s edgy.

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20200427 You have eaten the fruit of deception.)

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