by Dr. Foster H. Shannon
It was the first Sunday after Easter. What should I preach for Sunday April 7? It seemed to me that the Book of Acts was most appropriate, for it tells us what happened after the resurrection and ascension of our Lord. So my message was about the book of Acts. The Bible is like a deep well that always gives the best water, but never runs dry. The more you draw from it, the more there is.
As I read this book again, I was overwhelmed by the courage and commitment of the followers of Jesus. Yet they had not distinguished themselves in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was bound and taken into custody. Of the eleven (Judas had come to betray Jesus) nine fled for their lives. John and Peter followed Jesus to his trial before the Sanhedrin. But when asked, on three occasions, if he was a follower of Jesus, Peter denied, with cursing, saying that he did not know him. We can understand. These leaders of the Jews were out to kill Jesus, and from Peter’s perspective he might be next.
What we see in the book of Acts is the transformation of Peter, the other disciples and followers. A short time after the ascension of Jesus, at the feast of Pentecost, the disciples, and a larger number of other followers, were filled with the Holy Spirit and transformed. They assembled in the temple, a large crowd gathered, and Peter addressed them convincingly and boldly. Out of that crowd some three thousand became believers in Christ, were baptized and joined the disciples.
What struck me was that they chose the temple as the place to meet and minister in the name of Jesus! The temple was the seat of the ruling Sanhedrin, that had succeeded in exacting the execution of Jesus from the Romans. Had we been there, we might have counseled them to gather in a less notable place.
In Acts, chapter three, we read, “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer,”. They returned to the temple again, and there they healed a man (known to many who came to the temple) who had been lame from his birth, unable to walk. The Sadducees had them arrested and put into custody. They were sternly warned not to speak again in the name of Jesus.
In chapter five, they are back in the temple. Again they are arrested under the authority of the Sadducees and placed in prison. An angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and let them out—telling them to go back to the temple and speak the words of life. They were beaten again and charged not to speak in the name of Jesus. None-theless, they continued to come to the temple courageously declaring Jesus the Savior—who would forgive and save all who believed in him.
Are we too quiet, too careful, unwilling to venture into the temple?
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self control.” (II Timothy 1:7)
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note
Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is:www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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