Rachel Scott was eating lunch with her friend the day that she was shot by Eric Harris at Columbine High School. Witnesses say that Eric asked her if she was a Christian. When she replied that she was Eric shot her in the head. She died instantly. When we read Rachel’s story, we can’t help but ask ourselves what we would have done in that situation. Would we have admitted that we were Christians if it might result in our death?
Peter and John were arrested, jailed and then stood before the religious authorities. The two disciples, though uneducated fishermen, boldly proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ to the authorities. Askance at the gutsiness of the disciples the high priests rulers, elders and scribes ordered the disciples to stop spreading the good news of Jesus. The disciples still wouldn’t back down. They had to obey God rather than human authorities the disciples replied.
We may never have a gun put to our head or face hostile forces, but we still are called to identify ourselves as disciples of Jesus Christ. We do this by the little and big things we do as a part of who we are—helping a neighbor in need, standing at the side of a person being bullied, sharing a smile or a hug, speaking a word of encouragement or inviting a friend or co-worker to worship with us. Every day offers us the opportunity to love God by serving others.
While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.
The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.
So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. They said, “What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old.