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Spiritual Authority

Acts 4:5-7
The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest's family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: 'By what power or what name did you do this?' (NIVUK)

After the lame man had been healed (Acts 3:6-10), many other people also trusted in Jesus (Acts 4:4). They believed that He was alive and had powerful authority; they repented of their sins, welcomed His Holy Spirit and became part of God's family in a new way (Acts 2:38-47). But that gave a problem to the official spiritual leaders. Only a few weeks previously they had agreed that Jesus must die because He threatened their powerbase (Mark 15:10).

The Romans had allowed the religious leaders to have significant power in Israel, provided that they did not let the people rebel against the occupation forces. If the chief priests allowed civil unrest or mass gatherings to get out of control, they would be relieved of their privileged position (John 11:48). That happened in AD15 when Annas was deposed by the Romans and eventually succeeded by his son-in-law Caiaphas. However, Annas was still respected by the people and the high priest's family tried to stay in power together.

Everybody knew that Peter and John has been involved in the beggar's healing, and they had explained it was because the man trusted Jesus (Acts 3:16). So Caiaphas and his family had to work out a way to disperse the crowd and destroy interest in Jesus, before they lost their position of power. So they asked the apostles directly under what authority they had performed the healing. If the priests could make Peter agree that he healed under their authority, then they would be back in control, and be able to claim some glory. If the apostles claimed it was through Jesus, then they could be punished to show that the priests really were in charge.

Nobody minds Christians being nice, kind, helpful or serving the community. But the world finds it difficult to accept that Jesus' followers are acting under His authority. Although believers must always honour the government where they live (Romans 13:1-7), the Name of Jesus is seen as a threat by people who resist His rule in their hearts. And yet some people are hungry to hear the good news that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9-13). That is why the apostles, and we, are called to be His witnesses (Luke 24:46-49). Although some will try to silence us, others will be saved, and all because we have not been ashamed of Jesus (Romans 1:16).

Dear Lord God. Thank You that Jesus has the authoritative Name above all other names, and that I belong to Him. Please forgive me for sometimes being ashamed or afraid to mention His Name. Please help me to honour the people who govern the place where I live, and also to honour the Lord Jesus so that those who are longing for salvation may trust in Him. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams