Acts, #17 in the series.
Rosa Parks. Martin Luther King Jr. Anne Frank. Mother Teresa. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Winston Churchill. Joan of Arc.
Helen Keller – heroes in courage, and oh so many more.
“When the burden grows heavy, and rough is the way,
When you falter and slip, and it isn't your day,
And your best doesn't measure to what is required,
When you know in your heart that you're fast growing tired,
With the odds all against you, there's one thing to do:
That is, call on your courage and see the thing through.”1
What is courage? a noun
~mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty~2
When do we need courage?
We need it for big things and sometimes for seemingly small things too. We need courage to step out and act, when doing so could be costly. We need courage to say the right thing when it is sure to be unpopular. We need courage to step forward and take responsibility.
We need courage to take the lead, because maybe no one will follow or
pay attention, or maybe we will just fail.
Big things – leaving an abusive relationship, standing up to a bully
small things – trying a new food, saying 'no' to that drink, risking a change of hairstyle … all require some modicum of courage.
In this life, we know we need courage ... the question is, Where do we get courage? Hmm, probably several sources. But in today’s passage we see its innate source: Acts 4.1-22: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%204.1-22&version=NIV;NLT&interface=print
Here’s the scene Luke records for us. Peter and John continue teaching of Jesus near the temple, where they had just made quite a stir by healing a crippled man. Their influence is growing as more and more people respond to their message, which troubles the Jewish leaders in charge. First, the belief that believers in Jesus would rise from the dead, just as Jesus had, was in direct contrast to what the Sadducees believe. And further, the Sadducees are politically motivated to keep things cool with the Roman officials because it serves to maintain their lavish lifestyle—they do not want anyone to rock the boat. Peter and John are rocking the boat, so off to jail for the night.
When asked the next morning about his healing power, Peter again courageously credits Jesus – “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.”3 He continued as he built up steam, “. . . Salvation is found in no one else but Jesus, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were simple men who had had no rabbinical training, they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus.4
And in case you do not remember how Luke described Peter at the start of this confrontation, here it is: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…”. It was the Holy Spirit who made both Peter and John courageous! Verse 12 notes that the people saw Peter’s courage and it greatly impacted them—his courageous words moved them to put their new-found faith into action. Thousands more trusted in God that day. The new church now numbered 5000 in men alone, not counting women and children.
Here's the takeaway for you and for me: when we exhibit courage, particularly standing strong for the truth of Christ, it positively impacts others ... and it changes things.
Lord God, grant us the courage to speak up and stand up for you, for right things and for truth! In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Not Afraid, the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbdLnULOnGA
I will not be afraid.
In courage and faith,
1 – stanza from the poem “Courage, Courage, Courage!” Edgar Albert Guest
2 - Merriam Webster
3 – Acts 4.10
4 – Acts 4.12-13