Who Are You? Week Two
Week two of four
Last week looked at how by spending time with God, by beholding him, we can better understand the one that we are called to reflect.
We are made in the image of God and it is him that we are called to reflect and emulate.
There are all sorts of things that we can allow to define us:
Cultural norms and pressures
“Success,” however defined
We are going to continue this morning in looking at the early church in Acts to see what happens, post-pentecost, when Peter and John have to figure out who, exactly, they are going to be.
While they were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, because they were annoyed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. So they seized them and took them into custody until the next day since it was already evening. But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. The next day, their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all the members of the high-priestly family. After they had Peter and John stand before them, they began to question them: “By what power or in what name have you done this?” Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man, by what means he was healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing here before you healthy. This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in opposition. After they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign has been done through them, clear to everyone living in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again.” So they called for them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them further, they released them. They found no way to punish them because the people were all giving glory to God over what had been done. For this sign of healing had been performed on a man over forty years old.
Peter and John have been arrested for telling people Jesus had risen from the dead.
They had healed a man who had been lame since birth
People were astonished and Peter took it as a chance to tell them about Jesus.
Notice here in verse 4 that “many who heard the message believed, and the number of men cam to about five thousand.”
But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
And so, Peter and John are arrested in the custody of the high priestly family, and are interrogated.
They speak boldly, logically use the high priest’s rejections of Jesus, and firmly state the truth.
Notice that it says that Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit”
The difference between Peter at the high priest’s house just a few weeks earlier and now
Filled with the Holy Spirit
Peter points out that the religious leaders had been given the chance to build upon Jesus as their “cornerstone,” yet they had rejected him (Acts 4:11).
This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
What does the cornerstone do?
It is the first stone that is laid
At the corner or two walls.
It is the standard by which the whole building is built off of
Got to get it right
If you get it wrong you can throw off the whole building.
Out of sync and fall apart.
The setting of the cornerstone is a symbolic thing
a recognition that everything is built of that.
If Jesus is the cornerstone, it means that Jesus is the foundation’ the thing off of which everything else is measured.
It was Jesus who has been raised by God and set as the cornerstone after the rejection of the Religious “Rulers of the People and Elders” (v. 8)
How was God raised up and set Jesus as cornerstone after rejection?
Confirmed by the deliverance fo the Holy Spirit.
Once we acknowledge God as the cornerstone of our lives, the rest of our identity will be built upon his perfect foundation, just as plumb walls, straight lines, and correct angles are built in construction.
Verse 13 states that it was clear Peter and John “had been with Jesus.”
When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.
Peter and John knew who they were and to whom they belonged.
Their identities and callings were secure after spending time with Jesus prior to his crucifixion and after his resurrection, which directed the rest of their lives.
Peter and John found such security of identity that even arrest, persecution, interrogation, and lack of societal respect did not cause them to waver.
The revered 17th/early 18th centry comentator Matthew henry:
“Probably there was something extraordinary and very surprising in their looks; they appeared not only undaunted by the rulers, but daring and daunting to them; they had something majestic in their foreheads, sparkling in their eyes, and commanding, if not terrifying, in their voice”
This carrying of Jesus’s presence in their very bodies is similar to the story of Moses veiling his face after meeting with God because his face was so bright with God’s glory (Exodus 34:29).
We are changed when we spend time in the presence of God—changed into the creation God intended for us to become.
After this, the religious leaders still think they can intimidate Peter and John
What is Peter and John’s response?
“We are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard”
How many times do we say “I’m unable to stop speaking.”
Release them because the truth was made manifest in the lives if the people.
Including this 40 year old man who had been lame.
Haven’t done it in years, but in college I was really into it.
Use a GPS (geo) to seek out spots where people have hidden something (cahe)
When I was doing it, GPS wasn’t as good as it is now, and it was really, really easy to get off course, out walk the signal, or end up in the wrong place.
Best thing to do was to stop and wait.
Sometimes the signal caught up to you.
But most of the time you had to go back to the last known spot and start over, this time keeping care that you were headed in the right direction
This is such a great image for what can happen when we work really hard for something, but end up off track, off course, and lost.
Philmont Story if time
We need to stay close to Jesus.
It is he that will keep up on the right course.
He will show us where to go.
He is the cornerstone.
He will show us how to build a building, a life, that is straight and plumb and that will last.
This is the revelation of our true identity, of the person that God really made us to be!
The last year or so has been a mess
We’ve faced political turmoil, an economic crisis, a global pandemic, and also the trauma of losing a whole year with all the unmet goals and expectations that come with that!
All of this can cause us to feel like the foundation is shifting beneath our feet.
I’ve said for the last 14 months it feels as if time is liquid.
We don’t know where to put our trust, our hope.
In a politician? In a doctor? In a conspiracy theory? In a mask? In a vaccine? In a social movement and a slogan?
The crises that we’ve been living through is ultimately about who we are, and what our identities are.
See, withstanding tough times is profoundly more difficult when our identity is found in politics, financial success, prowess and popularity, meeting goals and having lofty dreams because these things change as quickly as the tide.
These are not the things that God gave us to have hope in, to shape who we are.
He gave us Jesus!
When we have found our identity in Jesus the things of the world will come and go, often independent of our work ethic, yet we will be secure in our identity simply because we are his.
Do you want to have the boldness and calm of Peter and John.
Do you want to be able to be so secure in your identity that you can stand up to the scorn, ridicule, and power of just about anyone/thing?
There is only one way.
I truly believe this, there is only ONE WAY to have that kind of assurance and peace.
And it isn’t in any of the identities that the world are going to foist on you.
If you want real peace you have to resist:
Resist letting cultural pressure, politics, finances, popularity, of success become the source of your identity.
Resist, but also rest
Res in knowing that God made you and God wants to see you become the person that He made you to be.
Let Jesus be your cornerstone. Let him form and shape your identity, and you will find real, true, and lasting rest.