Tuesday of Easter IV – Acts 4:1-12

1.And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 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 until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you 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 is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

When I was a child, my father served rural parishes in the Midwest. Our family cat died and one of the kindly farmers in the congregation offered to give us a pair of young cats who taken up residence in his barn. With eager expectation my younger brother and I received a box containing our new pets. With fond memories of our recently departed and somewhat elderly cat, we opened the box and were greeted by a pair of hissing, spitting, yowling, and slashing monsters. Our attempts at domestication were cut short when the two beasts bolted past us out the door and into the relative wilds of the neighbor’s cornfield.

My parents, my brother and I were somewhat stunned by what had just transpired. Certainly, our expectations had been shattered. We were unprepared for the feral animals which the farmer had brought to us. I think the poor high priest in today’s story must have felt the same way. They arrested some country bumpkins from Galilee. Luke tells us that they were “annoyed.” That is what happens when the powerful come upon their inferiors doing something they do not like. They get annoyed. These were poor people, unschooled blue-collar sorts of guys. I do not think Caiaphas was ready for the hammer that Peter was about to drop on him.

But that is what the Holy Spirit can do. A few weeks earlier Peter had been hiding in fear of these very men. We read that story just two weeks ago in the second week of Easter. But Jesus breathed on them, gave them the Holy Spirit, and they were changed people. Shepherds lead sheep to green pastures and cool waters. They take them from one place to another. Do you see what the Shepherd has done to Peter? Being a sheep in the flock of God is not a static thing. He takes us to new places. He leads us.

A couple of months after we witnessed the two cats bolting into the neighbor’s field, we saw a flash of yellow in our barn. It was one of our feral run-aways. We were milking a cow at the time and had excess milk. With a little dairy-based bribery, patience, and gentleness, we eventually came to have one of the best of pets. On fresh milk and the mice in our barn he grew to be an enormous cat, but he also learned to be gentle and loved a good scratch behind the ears. Jesus loves us unconditionally, but he does not leave us in the condition in which he finds us. He leads you and me to lives of courageous witness, strong love. Did you notice what Peter said at the end of his message? Jesus is the way of salvation for all – even high priests who killed him.

Scroll to Top