Unlikely Leaders


A Sin Worse Than the Original Crucifixion of Christ

God does not declare His judgment against unrepentant sinners merely because of the sins they have committed, but because, when they are called to repent, they choose to continue to defy the light. If the Jewish leaders had submitted to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, God would have pardoned them, but they were determined not to yield. ULe 24.8

On the day following the crippled man’s healing, Annas and Caiaphas met for the trial, and the prisoners were brought before them. In that very room, in front of some of those men, Peter had shamefully denied his Lord. Now he had an opportunity to redeem his cowardice. The Peter who denied Christ was impulsive and self-confident, but since his fall he had been converted. He was modest and self-distrustful, filled with the Holy Spirit, and was determined to remove the stain of his apostasy by honoring the name he had once disowned. ULe 24.9

The priests were forced to ask the accused disciples how the cure of the crippled man had happened. With holy boldness Peter said, “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.” ULe 25.1

The Jewish leaders had thought the disciples would be overcome with fear and confusion when brought before the Sanhedrin. Instead, these witnesses spoke with a convincing power that silenced their opponents. There was no trace of fear in Peter’s voice as he declared concerning Christ, “This is the ‘stone that was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’” ULe 25.2

As the priests listened to the apostles’ fearless words, “they realized that they had been with Jesus.” When the disciples first heard the words of Christ, they felt that they needed Him. They searched for Him, they found Him, they followed Him, in the temple, at the table, on the mountainside, in the field. They were like students with a teacher, daily receiving lessons of eternal truth from Him. ULe 25.3

Jesus, the Savior, who had walked and talked and prayed with them, had gone up to heaven in human form. They knew that He was standing before the throne of God, still their Friend and Savior, forever identified with suffering humanity. Their union with Him was stronger now than when He was with them in person. An indwelling Christ radiated out through them, so that people marveled when they saw it. ULe 25.4

The man who had been miraculously healed stood close beside Peter as a convincing witness. The appearance of this man added weight to Peter’s words. Priests and rulers were silent, unable to refute Peter’s statement, but they were no less determined to put a stop to the disciples’ teaching. ULe 25.5

The priests had crucified Jesus, but here was convincing proof that they had not put a stop to the working of miracles in His name nor to the spreading of the truth He taught. The crippled man’s healing and the apostles’ preaching had filled Jerusalem with excitement! ULe 25.6

The priests and rulers ordered the apostles to be taken away so that they could counsel among themselves. It would be useless to deny that the man had been healed. To cover up the miracle by falsehoods was impossible, since it had happened before a crowd of people. They felt that they must stop the work of the disciples, or their own disgrace would follow. ULe 25.7

Calling them again before the Sanhedrin, the priests commanded them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” So with repeated threats and warnings, the apostles were set free. ULe 25.8