Peter and John were interrogated about healing a lame man that they healed. They gave credit to Jesus Christ, who had just been executed, risen from the grave and ascended to heaven. The story is found in Acts 3. Peter and John were fearless when the same men that got Jesus executed, interrogated them and told them to stop talking about Jesus. They were threatened by men that welded incredible power to stop what they were doing, or these officials would really make their lives miserable.
This were young men, and they had seen Jesus do impossible things and they had also witnessed the resurrection and touched the risen Lord. They were indeed ahead of the rest of us in their “first hand faith”. But the threat of being hurt, humiliated, tortured, jailed and executed was real. They had seen just how badly the men who threatened them had treated Jesus! Christ’s body attested to this undeniable fact: These officials were hard hearted, cruel, and had incredible power; God has allowed them to do some pretty nasty things to others that get in their way.
Following Jesus never means we are bullet-proof to pain, imprisonment, harsh treatment or being martyred——it happens quite often in the history of the church! We have good reason to avoid officials and governments that are hostile to Christian work and our testimony. It is the bravery of these two apostles—-and their steadfast faith that they were doing the right thing, and therefor would not stop, that caught my attention.
But Shadrach, Meschach, Abędnego were three young man in the Old Testament that refused to dishonor God by bowing down to an idol that also caught my attention. When threatened with being burned alive, they responded to the King:
“….the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual…” Daniel 3:17-19, NIV
So here’s another example of men of courage that trusted God—-but we’re prepared to suffer even if God did not rescue them—— and they had not witnessed the resurrection first hand. It appears that we men (and women) of God, who are 2000 years removed from a first-hand encounter of the resurrection offered no excuse for a lack of bravery.
Bravery is doing the right thing, the thing that must be done or said, even when the consequences might very well result in your demise, banishment or death. Dear God where can we find heroes like this to lead us today?
There are people in power over us each time we drive our cars, fly in a plane, pay our taxes or even build our own homes. More and more power is being given to people that control what we say, what we teach our children, and even our opinion in matters of right and wrong. I am not attempting to be political, but rather to suggest that now, more than ever, men and women must be brave enough to “please God” rather than man. Peter, John, Daniel (in the lion’s den), and Shadrach, Meschach and Abędnego are examples—recorded by the Holy Spirit to give us courage.
Am I willing to say what must be said and do what must be done? If I do, and I sincerely want to please Him, I will often find myself accused and alone.