16 “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.
17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.”
18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,
20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.
22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old. ”
Acts 4:16-22 ESV Read More
I once heard a speaker talk about his strategy for reaching “creative access” countries. Those are countries that don’t allow Christianity or at least don’t allow foreign missionaries to come in and do evangelism. He said that in his studies he had found that a new missionary had about 3 years to make themselves indispensable if they hoped to stay longer.
He had a great story about being in some very closed and difficult country in North Africa for a few years when the government decided to shut them down and kick out all of their foreign workers. “Alright,” this guy told the government officials “Do you want me to tell the 600,000 widows and orphans that we feed every year that you hate us or do you want to tell them yourself?”
He was allowed to stay and continue his work for about 5 more years, until the humanitarian crisis they were helping with had subsided.
Peter and John have done something, by the power of Jesus, that has caused all of the people to praise God. The priests can’t deny that their goal is to praise God, but also they don’t want this rogue teaching about Jesus to expand.
I think it would have been different if Peter had rallied the people to hate the Jewish leaders. I think it would have been different if John had stood up and said “Rome ain’t going to do this for you! Down with Rome!” (Of course John was a bit younger so he would have used more colorful language.)
Even though the people were all looking at Peter and John, the message was all about Jesus. This was recent enough that people still remembered the great things that Jesus had done. The hope and excitement that He was actually still doing those works increased with every miracle. So much for the tragedy of Passover and the remorse about killing an innocent man. That Innocent Man was now still at work because maybe, just maybe, He really was the Son of God.
The final punctuation on the whole matter is that Peter and John are still obeying Him. There is no need to obey a dead man, but when Peter and John say that they will continue to speak of Jesus in order to obey God, it shows to everyone that Jesus is still at work.