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A woman and her husband interrupted their vacation to go to a dentist. “I want a tooth pulled, and I don’t want novocaine because I’m in a big hurry,” the woman said.
“Just extract the tooth as quickly as possible, and we’ll be on our way.” The dentist was quite impressed. “You’re certainly a courageous woman,” he said. “Which tooth is it?” The woman turned to her husband and said, “Show him your tooth, dear.”
My platoon sergeant in Vietnam was one of the bravest men I had ever known. He received the Silver Star for “charging and taking out two enemy machine-gun positions” during the battle for “Hamburger Hill.” The enemy had his entire platoon pinned down in a kill zone, and the sergeant charged up that hill by himself, under intense fire, taking the enemy out!
I asked him, “What motivated you to do such a thing – charge up that hill by yourself and do that?” He replied, “I didn’t know I was all alone – I thought everyone else was right behind me!”
That’s the kind of man he was – we all knew his humility – he KNEW he was all alone! He knew if he didn’t take immediate action, many of his men would die that day! This sergeant exemplified the loyalty a good leader has for his fellow soldiers – a willingness to die for them, if necessary!
In Acts 3, we are told how Peter and John one day healed a crippled beggar at the gate called “Beautiful,” while going into the temple. This 40-year-old man (Acts 4:22) had been crippled since birth, so you can imagine his exhilaration that followed in Acts 3:8! He RAN into the temple – leaping and singing praises to God! In his whole life – 40 years – he had never known what it was like to walk! Now, he not only walked, but he was able to jump up and down!
However, this caused a great commotion in the temple. Who does this man think he is interrupting “church service” with singing and shouting praise to God? They evidently felt “church” was no place to praise God.
This exemplifies one of the “seven woes” Jesus pronounced upon the religious leaders of the day (Matthew 23:27-28): “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."
Their worship was a “dead worship,” and their faith was a “dead faith.” From the outside, everything looked fine – magnificent building and fancy robes worn by the religious leaders – but on the inside…filled with a bunch of “dead bones.”
Peter and John are arrested, and then brought before the Sanhedrin – the same council of men who had put Jesus to death less than two months earlier – to answer for their “crimes!” What would you do if you were in Peter’s place? Just two months ago you witnessed the wrath these men were capable of delivering – the punishment they could pronounce upon you! What would you say to them?
We are told that Peter, “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:8), stood and preached the gospel message of salvation to them. He ends his sermon with these words from Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
He preached Christ to the men who killed Christ! He preached the message that brought a horrible death to the original messenger – Jesus. We are then told (in Acts 4:13-14), “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.”
They saw the courage…and it was hard to ignore the evidence that was standing there with them. By the way, did you notice that the man they healed was “standing there with them”? Nowhere are we told that this man had been arrested along with Peter and John. I believe that this man was so grateful for the blessing he had received from God through the apostles, that he was not going to allow them to stand and face punishment alone.
I remember reading once, “If Christianity were made illegal today, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” How about it, Christian? Is there enough evidence to convict you of being Christian? Is your “courage” to proclaim Christ limited to the confines of church walls? Even within those church walls, is your “courage” to praise God limited to “thoughts and whispers” of "Amen"?
Remember this: Jesus was publicly humiliated for you. Jesus was publicly crucified for you. And Jesus publicly asked God to forgive those who were crucifying him. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
“Go into the world,” Christian – be bold and be courageous!