What is the greatest trial or adversity you’ve faced in your life? What words would describe how you faced that challenge? How did you impact those around you? What about words like courage, filled with the Holy Spirit, bold, faithful, healing impact on others? Probably not the first list you came up with, but yet these are words that describe Peter facing his first arrest, what had to be his greatest trial so far.
Today we’re looking at Peter’s first arrest in Acts 4. This comes not long after the apostles have been filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Peter and John had been at the temple and healed a lame beggar. If that wasn’t enough, Peter begins to preach about Jesus in the temple courtyard. This upset the priests and rulers of the day. They thought they’d suppressed all this talk about Jesus when they crucified him, but now here was Peter continuing to excite the people with messages of resurrection and prophecies fulfilled in Jesus.
What I love about this passage is we finally see Peter get it right. He doesn’t get overwhelmed or frightened. He doesn’t cower or run away. He stands firm in his faith, filled with the Holy Spirit and firm in his knowledge of Jesus.
This passage is found in Acts 4:1-31 (The healing of the beggar, which sparks the arrest, is in Acts 3). You can also watch a movie version of it below from “The Visual Bible: Acts”.
[youtube id=”RtlJ9LMMxJI” height=”353″ width=”574″ marginbottom=”15″]
The Holy Spirit can fill us with courage and boldness to face any trial
[callout]They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them… (Acts 4:7-8 NIV)[/callout]
Peter and John were arrested and brought before the high priest. When questioned, they did not back down. Instead Peter finds a dose of courage he probably didn’t know he had. Peter speaks up and boldly defends his actions for healing a man and explains it was the power of Jesus that healed the man.
We can also call on the Holy Spirit in our own trials. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with courage and boldness, to equip you with what you need to be strong in the face of whatever battle you’re fighting.
When we stand firm in our faith, especially through a great trial, we draws others closer to God
[callout]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. (Acts 4:13 NIV)[/callout]
These were the same religious leaders who convinced Pilate to crucify Jesus, a group to be feared. Yet, Peter stood before them boldly and proclaimed the message of Jesus so strongly the leaders couldn’t help but take note that Peter had been with Jesus. Peter’s faith stood out and made an impression because he allowed the Holy Spirit to lead him.
[callout]Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As of us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20 NIV)[/callout]
The rulers couldn’t find enough reason to keep them in prison, so they released Peter and John with a command to stop preaching about Jesus. Peter replied that he was so compelled to share what he had seen and heard, that he could not keep silent.
As we experience Jesus, particularly as we learn to lean into our faith through life’s challenges, we should also feel so compelled to share our story. Some of the people who have made the most impact in my own faith journey were ones I watched face a great trial with boldness and courage that came from their strong faith in Jesus. As we learn to face change and trial with more courage and boldness, leaning into our faith, we will draw others to Jesus.
Prayer renews our resolve and shakes us free from fear
[callout]On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. (Acts 4:23-24 NIV)[/callout]
Prayer is essential, but probably no more so than when we’re facing a challenge. I’d bet Peter was silently praying throughout this arrest and trial, as were the other believers. We do know prayer was the first thing they all did when Peter and John were released – and let’s look at how powerful prayer can be.
[callout]After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:31 NIV)[/callout]
Wow. The ground was shaken after their prayer and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit to speak the word of God boldly.
This had to be a frightening time for all the believers, yet here they are continuing to proclaim the message of Jesus boldly, now in direct opposition of the religious leaders.
What could prayer do for you as you face trials in your own life? Prayer brings renewed resolve, peace, courage, direction, boldness. Prayer can shake you free from fear to set you in motion to move forward through your trial.
Read this passage for yourself: Acts 4:1-31
Reflect on the questions below:
1) What does this passage tell you about God?
2) How does this passage speak to you?
3) How does this affect your perspective on prayer?
If you want to dig deeper into the life and lessons of Peter, I highly recommend two books:
“A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of Simon Peter”, by Michael Card and “The Fisherman: A Novel”, by Larry Huntsperger
[callout]This post is part of the “A Better Change” series. For more information on this series and to find related posts, click here: A Better Change Series – Overview[/callout]