First Reading: Acts 4:8-12
On Trial Before the Sanhedrin
Peter and John healed a cripple in the Temple. Then, they preached about Jesus and the resurrection of the dead. In response, the Temple leaders arrested them. They appeared before the High Priests.
8 Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then he said to them, "Leaders! 9 If you interrogate us about doing good for this crippled man, about how he was healed, 10 then you and everyone in Israel should know this! The man was healed in the name of Jesus Christ, the one from Nazareth. He was the one you crucified. He was the one God raised from the dead. 11 Jesus is 'the stone you builders threw away, but the one God set down to hold up the building.' 12 No one else can save us. After all, God did not give people any other name that could save us, but the name of Jesus!"
8 Then, having been filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter said to them, "Rulers of the people and Elders, 9 if today we are being questioned about a good deed for a sick man, in which this (one) has been made whole, 10 let it be made known to all of you and all the people of Israel that, in the name of JESUS CHRIST THE NAZOREAN whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, in THIS (ONE), this (man) has stood before you healthy. 11 This (ONE) is 'the stone, the (ONE) having been hated' by you, 'the builders, the (ONE) having become the head of the corner.' 12 Salvation is not in another (person), no one (else), for (there) is not another name under heaven having been given among men by which it is necessary for us to be saved."
4:8 "having been filled with the Holy Spirit" A Handbook on the Acts of the Apostles (pp. 95, Newman and Aida, United Bible Societies, New York, NY, 1971) has a good analogy to describe the notion of "being filled" with Holy Spirit. The experience is not like filling an empty bucket with water, but like a sponge being saturate with water. God does not replace our identity with his, but completes us in a way so we can do things that we could not do alone.
4:9 "in which this (one) has been made whole" The verb "to make whole" is literally "to save." The contemporaries of Jesus and the early Church made a connection between salvation and cure. Hence, the crippled man was saved with his cure. See Mark 2:1-12 for another example of this belief.
4:11 "...the stone, the (ONE) having been hated" by you, "the builders, the ONE having become the head of the corner." This passage comes from Psalm 118:22. This passage is also found in Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, and Luke 20:17. Unlike these passages that follow the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures used by the early Church), this verse appears to be a loose translation or a paraphrase.
Have you ever been criticized for doing good as a Christian? Ever since the beginning of the Church, good deeds in the name of Christ make one a target for skeptics.
After Peter's speech from last week, the authorities arrested the two Apostles. The next day they were on trial before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court that judged civil and religious matters in Jerusalem. In today's reading, Peter answered the high priest's question: "By whose authority do you do these things (i.e., heal the disabled man and preach)?"
Luke portrayed Peter as an effective preacher. First, he was "...filled with the Holy Spirit..." (Effective preaching can only be done in the Holy Spirit, for only God can truly change hearts.) Next, Peter changed the focus of the debate. Instead of concentrating on the question of his authority to heal and preach, Peter answered with results. In whose name is the disabled man healed and saved? Jesus, the Nazorean. Healing can only come about when the source is recognized (i.e., with faith). So, Peter made Jesus the basis of his arrest. In doing so, he set Jesus ( and his followers) apart from his country's leaders. By their actions they were guilty of defying God's will. Peter sighted Psalm 118:22 to make his point. But God's will was done through their actions. The healed man is proof of God's activity.
Finally, Peter ended with the focus on Jesus. His name was the only one that could save. His comments placed the leaders into the camp of the non-believers, those who opposed God's will.
Peter was arrested for healing and preaching in the name of Christ. The good he did opened the door to evangelization. The good we do can open doors for our Lord. Like Peter, we need to be open to the Spirit, so God can move through us.
How has God worked through you? Through Christians you know? How has that work evangelized others?