Acts 4: 1-26 Peter and John Before the Sanhedrin

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand. 5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 

11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected,  which has become the cornerstone.’[a]

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. 23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“‘Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
against the Lord
    and against his anointed one.


John 10: 11-18

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”


Peter and John are in a predicament familiar to persons in public life—teachers, preachers, government officials. These persons often have to defend their actions that produce change.

Peter and John had previously healed a man lame from birth—in fact, they had dramatically changed his life. The crowd was amazed by what they had seen and wanted to know how all this had happened. Peter recounts the many and various things God had done for the people by the teachers of the law and the prophets, who had urged the people to change their relationship with God.

In the midst of the sermon, Peter and John are interrupted by a group of religious authorities who are annoyed by what they believe is false teaching. What may be more at stake was their perception that these two were urging a change in the status quo. These religious authorities had the two arrested and put into custody of the civil authorities. In spite of the religious and civil authorities, however, “many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand” ( Acts 4:4).

The leaders asked, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” (v. 7). The Holy Spirit fills Peter and he begins to address those in authority in what looks to us like a courtroom scene. Peter tells those assembled that it was not his power that restored the lame man, but rather the life-giving power found in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Peter is determined not to take the credit for the healing, but rather credit the power of God at work in the one whom the people had crucified. It is God and God’s Christ that has the power to heal, make whole, and give salvation. And only in God can these blessings be acquired by mortals. In a sense, Peter shares deeply the gospel’s conviction that only God can raise up what people have struck down.

What is interesting about Peter’s speech is his connection of both the physical and the spiritual aspects of healing. Not only is the lame man healed of his affliction, but also those who are lame or sick in the spiritual sense can also be healed. This is the ultimate hope that God holds out for God’s people.

To his contemporaries, Jesus was a rabbi, a teacher of the law; such men were expected to spend their time interpreting the law. Although the title, Good Shepherd, is only found in the New Testament, Jesus was intentionally reaching into the Old Testament with his words. When Jesus claimed to be the good shepherd, he was speaking to the Pharisees who claimed to know the scriptures.

Jesus’ claim to be the good shepherd is just one of seven other declarations regarding who he was. There are seven times Jesus begins a statement with the words I am and claims a tile or role. These are commonly called the I am statements. No wonder he frustrated the Pharisees so much, for instead of discussing the law, Jesus kept talking about love. By calling himself the good shepherd, Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah that the scriptures foretold.

“Rabbi, is it okay to pull an ox out of the ditch on the Sabbath . . . or to pay taxes to Rome . . . and can we stone a woman caught in the act of adultery?” And each time, Jesus challenged them to quit focusing their mental microscopes on the letter of the Law, and to see the divine spirit of the Law. Jesus wants us to understand that you can keep the law in detail without loving, but you cannot love without being obedient to God’s law.

Jesus was motivated by love. It was the unifying principle of his earthly life. And the message of John’s letter is that Christ’s followers must also choose love as a life principle if we are to walk in his steps. If we are to share his life, we must share his love AND know  What are the characteristics of such love?

I. Love Is of God

True love is not a human characteristic; its source is God. John talks about “God’s love” (v. 17)—he is talking about God’s kind of love. It is the love that has a divine author.

We use the word love too loosely in this culture. We love our wives, husbands, children; I love my cat, my dog, my new boat; I love my carpet, my new curtains, my furniture. What we refer to as love is often really infatuation or affection.!

Love is not something you learn in a seminar or from a book; it must be experienced in our own lives. That is why John says “we know love”—we know it because we have experienced it in Christ. The cross of Christ is the supreme expression of love; to know Christ’s sacrificial love, and to accept that cross as our own, is to open our lives to truly experience love for the first time.

If our culture knows so little real love, it is because we know so little of God. He is a God of love, and if we wish to know him we must be willing to be loved and to love.

II. Love Is Action

Love goes beyond words. It is very practical—it must be applied in daily life, sometimes with people who are not very loving or lovable. Real love requires us to take our eyes off ourselves and see the needs of others.We Christians can be guilty of talking about love but showing very little.

What impression of Christ do we give? Loving, caring, concerned for people and their needs?

Just as the source of love is God, the reality of love is action. As I demonstrate love, God makes himself more and more real in my own life.

III. Love Is Costly

Love is not cheap. God’s love came at the expense of a cross—and we must also expect to pay a price if we are to show authentic love. There is risk—of vulnerability, of misunderstanding, of rejection. We must take a chance in order to love others. Some will reject it, others will misuse it, but there will be those who respond to it, and who experience Christ’s presence in our love.

The life of love is not an easy or a common one, but it is the road that leads to Christ. The good news of Christianity is God’s unconditional love for us in Jesus. Regardless of who, or what, God loves us. He loves us no more and no less than he loves anybody else. He lived, died, rose, and reigns in Jesus for us no more and no less than he lived, died, rose, and reigns for anybody else. His love is inclusive. Or as he said, “God so loved the world.”

Even people who are not yet in relationship with God through faith in Jesus are wanted by him. Jesus said, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Our Lord does not want anyone left out of the wholeness, happiness, joy, and eternal security of life in the kingdom.

That’s why he is the Good Shepherd. He leads and loves people into confident living and eternal life. Shepherds don’t follow sheep. That’s especially true with our Lord. He knows who he is). He is Lord! We are his people. He is the Good Shepherd! We follow where he leads. He knows what we need and leads the way.

Shepherd is a metaphor for king. Jesus is the Shepherd-King.

Practically, it means our Lord doesn’t solicit suggestions on how to run the kingdom. He doesn’t ask if we’d like to feed the hungry, house the homeless, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and all of the rest. He directs us into the social responsibilities of the gospel. He leads as Lord. He is the Good Shepherd. Unlike a hired hand, who is paid to do a job, our Lord willingly, sacrificially, and selflessly wants to help.

The Good Shepherd, Jesus, knows your name and calls to you. It is this same Good Shepherd who has stood by you through all the trials and tribulations of life. This is the one who will always be there for you.  …. Let us Pray …Shepherding God, Like sheep who have gone astray—we have not heeded your voice,
calling us to follow the right paths, beckoning us to lie down and be restored; we have acted as if our salvation lies in busyness and control. We do not want to be sheep—dependent on a shepherd for everything. We want to do it alone—to maintain our independence. Forgive us for rejecting your shepherding care
and your love and guidance. Forgive us for our need to do it by ourselves, to be separate from the flock. Forgive us for doubting your presence in times of trouble. Forgive us our despair
in the face of seemingly unrelenting evil and death.
Lead us back to the path of life. Amen