Signs, Wonders, and Suffering for Christ

And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Acts 4:1-2

The Sadducees were sad. The message didn’t make them glad. They didn’t like the gospel message. A crippled man had just been miraculously healed through the power of Jesus’ name. Some people don’t like miracles. The Sadducees sure didn’t. They didn’t believe in angels or resurrection, and probably would have preferred for the man to stay a cripple, because the power of God was something they couldn’t handle.

Yes, there is a form of religion that denies God’s power, that teaches us to go to church on Sunday, do all the motions of worship, then go home unchanged. But we feel better because we’ve done our religious duty. The conscience is temporarily assuaged, but the heart remains hard and the soul remains untouched. It is a faith that rests on the wisdom of man, but in the name of Jesus Christ Peter and John had just performed an amazing miracle.

And now the priests, the captain of the temple, and the men who were famous for being sad, the Sadducees, arrested Peter and John. They persecuted them (i.e. gave them a hard time) for daring to lay hold of Jesus’ promise that

“He who believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12)

I’m sure that most of us are familiar with the scripture “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Well, the Apostles had a living faith in God and they demonstrated it by daring to take hold of a crippled man’s hand and help him to his feet. They believed God’s Word and acted on it.

Now, some believing Christians (I don’t know how many) don’t believe God still performs instantaneous healings, resurrections, or miracles. Some of them hold the concept that to be sick or infirm or disabled is to somehow suffer for the gospel. They preach against the idea of divine healing, as if it was opposed to God’s will. But what would Jesus say to that? How did He feel about healing people?

Once, in a synagogue where Jesus was speaking, there was a man with a withered hand. The religious guys were watching him carefully, waiting to accuse him of healing on the Sabbath. They cared more about their religious doctrine than about the ailing man. The scriptures tell us that Jesus was grieved for the hardness of their hearts (Mark 3:5). His question to them was:

“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil, to save life, or to kill?” (verse 4)

Of course, Jesus healed the man. This time it was the Pharisees he angered, and they plotted to destroy him. Jesus didn’t have to get sick to suffer persecution at their hands. He suffered because he healed people and raised others from the dead. The religious people were envious, because they had a form of godliness but denied its power (II Timothy 3:5-7). I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I want to live my Christian life.






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