Jesus in a Plural World | James Stevenson

Acts 4:1-22

Peter and John Before the Sanhedrin

1 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. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together.16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it.17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 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. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.


No other name

When Peter healed the lame man, everyone saw him running into the temple and dancing for joy. They wanted to know how this had happened so Peter explained that this was thanks to Jesus. He did so in language they could identify with – quoting from their own Scriptures – and then he challenged them saying ‘there is no other name… by which we must be saved.’

No other name. That is a challenge in today’s culture. It can sound offensive or threatening in a climate of ‘do no harm and believe what you like’. Does our Christian faith mean we need to be so counter-cultural? Yes it does.

We need to get the basic way we see things, our worldview, clear because it determines our beliefs which shape our values which affect our behaviour. Is Jesus at the centre of our worldview, or have we assimilated him into a much more pluralistic way of thinking? Our answer to that question will affect every aspect of our lives.

How then do we put this across to others? How do we counter the basic unexamined worldview that prevails? We can try to live in a way that keeps pointing to the Resurrection of Jesus, whether this is seen for example in how we respond to suffering or how we deal with a tricky situation at work. And when others comment on our response, we can explain the impact Jesus has on us, and invite them to come on the journey with us.

James Stevenson