v 19. But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
This would make a good end point for an edition of some religious soap opera! The Galilean fisherman dares to challenge the Jewish authorities – will he survive? Or will they crucify him too? Peter bravely acknowledges that he is under orders from a higher authority. The threats would have come thick and fast. It was the Jewish leaders who were the more frightened however; they didn’t want to start a riot! ‘The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot.’
Peter and John were doubly motivated. Firstly, they had been commanded to speak out the good news of Jesus and their orders from God were explicit.
But then there was the inner compulsion – the news was just too good to stay silent about. It must have been exactly the same as with the prophet Jeremiah centuries before. ‘But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!’ (Jeremiah 20:9) They simply had to speak about Jesus and the resurrection – nothing was going to stop them.
It is this deep inner compulsion that most of us – myself included – seem to lack right now. We feel compelled to talk about all sorts of other things, the weather, our health, the news, Brexit, …. but then remain pretty well silent about Jesus. There are times when I feel more than vaguely ashamed of my silence. I can rationalise it, partly excuse it, and then walk away from it as if it is of minimal importance.
Lord, help me to be more open and forthcoming about the good news of Jesus, and be ready to share it with those I encounter in the daily round of life.