The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. (4:1)
Already the Jewish religious leaders were becoming uncomfortable with the message they were hearing about that was going around, that the old disciples of Jesus were spreading… and here they were again addressing a big crowd right out there in the temple courts; they must do something. It’s interesting that the Sadducees are mentioned here, but there’s no mention of Pharisees, but then Peter and the others were talking about Jesus, saying that He had risen from the tomb, and that was clearly an affront to the Sadducees who taught that there was no resurrection from the dead.
They had the Apostles arrested and thrown into jail for the night.
The next morning the Sanhedrin was convened and the men were brought forth for questioning. Clearly, they had reason to be concerned because even though they had broken up the address Peter was making to the crowd, a rather large group there had come to follow Jesus (4:4).
Their interview with Peter and John was an interesting one for the man who had been healed was also present, making the job of the Jewish leaders quite awkward for he stood there as a testament to the fact that the Apostles were telling the truth… and to make matters even worse, Peter decided that this was a good time to preach the Gospel (4:5-12).
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. (4:13-15)
Had the members of the Sanhedrin had any interest in getting to the truth, this could have been a groundbreaking moment, but just as when Jesus stood before them, they had no qualms about truth; they were in a real political pickle. There was no way they were going to admit that they had been wrong about Jesus, and they needed this Jesus talk to stop right now to avoid being exposed. After discussing the matter, they decided to order Peter and John to stop preaching about Him, and had them brought back into the room (4:16-18)
But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. (4:19-22)
It had been a tough day for the Jewish leaders.
Much could be written about this incident, and much has been, yet the really telling scene is what the response of the community of believers was, and we will see that when we get together next time…