A fervent prayer: Devotional Commentary for June 27-July 3
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
23When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.
24And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, "O Lord, it is You who MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM,
25who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, WHY DID THE GENTILES RAGE, AND THE PEOPLES DEVISE FUTILE THINGS?
26'THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TOOK THEIR STAND, AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST.'
27"For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
28to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.
29"And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence,
30while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus."
31And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
As noted in our last meditation, the Sanhedrin released Peter and John with warnings, threats, and specific instructions not to speak about Jesus Christ or do anything in His Name. The Council and the elders were fearful of the apostle’s popularity among the people because of the man who was healed in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth. They were afraid because the people glorified God for what they witnessed. The Disciples were in good favor with the people.
Following their release, Peter and John met with the other Disciples and told them everything the Council said to them during their trial. It was important that the others were also brought up to date, because the outcome of the trial affected them as well. The court order was not just to Peter and John. It applied to all of Jesus' Disciples. No one was allowed to speak about Jesus or do anything in His name. The Sanhedrin were apprehensive because they knew that no one could do the things Jesus did unless one is sent by God.
The warnings and threats issued by the Jewish authorities did nothing to discourage the Disciples. Their response to the court's directives were different from any simple reaction. The Disciples got together and turned to God in prayer with one accord. They did not disperse in fear, nor did they retreat to a secluded hideaway. They were united as one in Christ. They were indeed united in prayer.
Note that these were men who were threatened by authorities and banned from speaking about Jesus or doing anything in His Name. They were barred from practicing their faith. They were prohibited from preaching the Word. For all intents and purposes, their lives were at stake. Nevertheless, their prayers were not characterized by petitions of vengeance. They prayed for mercy and strength.
Their prayers were sincere, heartfelt, and godly. They came together as one and lifted their voices to God in prayer. As they prayed, they first acknowledged God's sovereign Authority over everything and in all things. The Sanhedrin attempted to threaten them into silence. But the Disciples were not dispirited by the Council's orders or intimidations. They were well aware that whatever control the Sanhedrin might have had was subject to God's sovereign Authority. They were secure in the sovereignty of God. They were safe in His Care.
Furthermore, the Disciples confessed that the sovereign God is also the Almighty Creator of everything that is created. He set the laws that run creation and governs everything He made. The entire creation belongs to Him in all of its magnificence and intricate details. They took comfort in the truth that God is the revealer of truth and the exposer of falsehood. He knows the corrupt intentions of the world's nations against the Messiah. They acknowledged that every event in history is within His sovereign prerogatives. He is the Lord of history. He is the Master of its processes.
Having thus affirmed their vision of God, the Disciples proceeded to make their supplications known to God the Almighty Creator, the sovereign LORD, the magnificent Father, the Prince of Life, the just Judge, the merciful Savior, and the caring Provider. They humbled themselves before such-a-God! They petitioned that God would take notice of the threats issued against His servants. They prayed that God would strengthen them to press on with courage and dedication in their service to Him. They pleaded that God would continue to grant healing and miracles in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ. They prayed that the Power of His Name would empower their words.
The Disciples did not ask for vengeance, nor did they pray that God would stop the persecution. They simply petitioned for strength to persevere in God's Will. God honored their prayers and filled them once again with the Holy Spirit. The place where they assembled quaked as God entered the room in the Person of the Holy Spirit and blessed them with courage and dedication. They continued to preach the Word with renewed vigor and vitality. They were transformed and empowered, but their surrounding remained hostile and dangerous. The change in them was profound because God touched each one in a personal way.
The members of the Sanhedrin were serious and passionately hateful. Their threats were real and direct. Their warnings were specific. But the Disciples' response was uncommonly godly, persevering, and purposeful. What made the difference? What was the difference?
The elders and the authorities of the Sanhedrin were driven by their own natural and impulsive ardor. They operated by the corrupt powers of the flesh and of darkness. Their objective was to stop the Gospel and erase the Name of Jesus from remembrance.
They were confused and upset that people still called upon the Name of Jesus and continued to be blessed. They were convinced that putting Jesus on the Cross would have meant the end for Him. Little did they know that they were serving God's Purpose of Redemption as the evil hand which crucified the Lamb of God for the remission of sin. They did not realize that they served the sovereign Purposes of the sovereign God, even in their evil ways.
But the Disciples understood that what the Jewish authorities did was what God had already determined to occur. Therefore, they accepted the animosity of the Sanhedrin with a godly perspective. Yes, they were weak and defenseless, humanly speaking. God was their strength. He was their hope. He was their confidence. They were as human as the members of the Sanhedrin were. They were, therefore, people of like passion and natural traits. But they did not behave the same way. The Disciples did not operate with evil passion.
The Sanhedrin stood against God and sought to hinder the Gospel. But the Disciples stood with God and persevered in His service. God was the difference. The Sanhedrin were godless. But the Disciples were godly.
Our own prayers are often stifled by personal burdens and wants that influence the crafting of our petitions into a list of desires and wishes. We often ask for some divine intervention primarily to improve our own situations. There is no law against petitions for God's Mercy and Grace in everything. After all, He is our Father and we are His children. We yearn for His blessings every moment. But if we are completely honest, our prayers are often self-centered or defocused from God. But God and only God makes the difference because He is the difference. That is what the Disciples teach us with their God-focused prayers. The Disciples understood that God's Will is the ultimate reality. Now we know what the Disciples knew, believed, and practiced. Are we not also the Disciples of Jesus Christ?