The Animosity of the Religious Leaders Part 4 of 7
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin, and Peter (who is the spokesman) does a good job speaking to these men, because he is filled with a fresh enabling of the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit was telling Peter what to say—“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. (Luke 21.12-15).
In spite of the respect he showed these men, he suggests here the absurdity of them questioning him concerning the good deed he and John had performed on behalf of this poor, paralyzed man. The Sanhedrin should have been the last group on earth to criticize or question them for such a miracle. This is Peter’s fourth speech in the Book of Acts. Up to this time, every time he opened his mouth, he put his foot in it. But this time, I tell you, he has his “…his feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace” (Eph. 6.15). He is filled with the Holy Spirit, and he is saying the right thing; “Are we on trial for the good deed we did for the sick man?” That is a searching question! It appears from this verse and verse 14 that the formerly crippled man was standing in front of the council, alongside Peter and John.
Peter respectfully began with an explanation of how the miracle occurred. Certainly, the members of the Sanhedrin had seen the crippled beggar many times, and perhaps they had even given alms to him and piously prayed for him. How was this well-known man healed? Please note that Peter gave the exact information the Sanhedrin asked for—but in reverse order. They asked by what power the miracle had been accomplished, and then in what name it had been wrought. Peter answered first, “By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified!”—and then he declared the power. He emphasized the name these men hated more than any other, and one they would like to forget. Those words must have pierced the hearts of the members of the council! They thought they had finished with the Prophet of Nazareth, and now His followers were telling everybody that Jesus was alive! Since the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, Peter’s statement was almost a declaration of war. Peter seized upon the council’s question about a name and proceeded to make this the substance of his defense. But what about the POWER? They did heal the lame man, not by any power of their own, but by the power of a name. It was a name that every member of the council knew; by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth—“And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3.16). Though they had crucified Jesus, God had raised Him from the dead. “And this is the POWER—the raising of that One whom you crucified, and say He did not rise, and forbid us to speak His name. You say there is no resurrection—but God raised Jesus, and THROUGH HIS NAME AND BY HIS POWER this man stands before you perfectly whole!”
11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
The image of the stone was not new to these men who were experts in the Old Testament Scriptures. They knew that the rock was a symbol of God—“He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He” (Deut. 32.4)—and that the Prophet Daniel had used the rock to picture Messiah and the coming of His kingdom on earth (Dan 2.31-45). The Jews stumbled over the Rock. “Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone” (Rom 9.32)—and rejected Him, just as Psalm18.22 had predicted—“The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.” However, to those who have trusted Him, Jesus is the precious cornerstone—“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed” (1 Peter 2.4-8)—and the chief Cornerstone—“having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2.20). Jesus Christ is the Stone, the Rock, and the chief and precious cornerstone. Jesus had said, “…Upon this rock I will build My church…” (Matt 16.18). What is the rock? The Rock is Christ. Now Peter says, “This is the stone.” What is the stone? Is it the church, or is it Simon Peter? No, it is the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The One who healed the cripple was the stone which the builders rejected. He has become the Head of the corner. This has been accomplished by the resurrection. Notice that the resurrection is central to the preaching of the gospel.
Peter is supposedly defending himself, but it sounds more like he is preaching the gospel. He quoted from Psalm 118.22, asserting that Christ was the stone which the builders of the Jewish nation rejected, but which God had made the most important stone in the building. The builders are the Jewish rulers, the men he was addressing boldly; they had rejected the One who made sense for their whole structure. They could not attain wholeness through the cultic practices in the Temple, and salvation did not come through keeping the commandments. The only means of salvation, Peter affirmed, was through the name of Christ, and that is where those who yearned for spiritual health would find it.
This verse reminds us that God overrules the devices and plans of ungodly men in order to accomplish His own plan and purpose. In the beginning, He purposed and planned His program for eternal ages, and all hell cannot frustrate His design. Many times the person (or thing) which is set at naught, and despised by men, God esteems and uses for His glory and the work of His kingdom. When the powerful, great, and mighty of this world condemn, God may take what they condemn and make it the very foundation—yes, even the cornerstone—of His building.
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Peter goes on to explain that Jesus is not only the Stone, but He is also the Savior. Peter saw in the healing of the beggar a picture of the spiritual healing that comes in salvation. “Made whole” in Acts 4.9 is a translation of the same Greek word that is translated “saved” in this verse, for salvation means wholeness and spiritual health. Jesus Christ is the Great Physician who alone can heal mankind’s greatest malady, the sickness of sin—“As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi's house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, "How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard it, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Mark 2.14-17). Of course, Peter had “all the people of Israel” in mind when he spoke (v.10), because the message was still going out exclusively to the Jews. Even Psalm 118, from which Peter quoted, speaks of a future national salvation of Israel (vv. 22-29).
Go back to the birth of Jesus and the instruction given by the angel, “…and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1.21). He is the Savior. That was His name in the beginning. When you accept the name, you accept all that it implies in the person who is involved. Peter makes it clear, and I want to emphasize that when you come to Him, my friend, you come for salvation. There is no other name under heaven that can save you. Religion can’t save you. A ceremony can’t save you. One alone, the name of Jesus, can save you. Jesus is the name of that person who came down from heaven to the earth to save His people from their sins. When any person comes to Him in faith, that person is saved. There is no other place to turn for salvation.
Isn’t it interesting that in the long history of this world and all the dogmatism that these religions have, not one of them can offer a sure salvation? My friend, may I say something to you today? “There is no other name under heaven whereby you can be saved.” If you come to Him, if you trust Christ, then you are saved. That guarantees your salvation.