With mighty power the disciples preached a crucified and risen Saviour. They healed the sick, even one who had always been lame was restored to perfect soundness, and entered with them into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God in the sight of all the people. The news spread, and the people began to press around the disciples. Many ran together, greatly astonished and amazed at the cure that had been wrought.
When Jesus died the chief priests thought that there would be no more miracles wrought among them, that the excitement would die, and that the people would again turn to the traditions of men. But, lo! right in their midst, the disciples were working miracles, and the people were filled with amazement, and gazed with wonder upon them. Jesus had been crucified, and they wondered where the disciples had obtained this power. When he was alive they thought that he imparted power to his disciples; when Jesus died, they expected those miracles would end. Peter understood their perplexity, and said to them, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers hath glorified his Son Jesus, whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One, and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead, whereof we are witnesses. Peter told them that it was faith in Jesus that had caused this perfect soundness of a man who was before a cripple.
The chief priests and elders could not bear these words. They laid hold of the disciples and put them in confinement. But thousands were converted, and believed in the resurrection and ascension of Christ, by hearing only one discourse from the disciples. The chief priests and elders were troubled. They had slain Jesus that the minds of the people might be turned to themselves; but the matter was now worse than before. They were openly accused by the disciples of being the murderers of the Son of God, and they could not determine to what extent these things might grow, or how they themselves would be regarded by the people. They would gladly have put the disciples to death; but dared not for fear the people would stone them. They called for the disciples, who were brought before the council. The very men who eagerly cried for the blood of the Just One were there. They had heard Peter's cowardly denial of Jesus, with cursing and swearing, as he was accused of being one of his disciples. They thought to intimidate Peter; but he was now converted. An opportunity was here given Peter to exalt Jesus. He once denied him; but he could now remove the stain of that hasty, cowardly denial, and honor the name he had denied. No cowardly fears reigned in the breast of Peter then; but with holy boldness, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, he fearlessly declared unto them that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which has become the head stone of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
The people were astonished at the boldness of Peter and John. They took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus; for their noble, fearless conduct compared well with the appearance of Jesus when he was persecuted by his murderers. Jesus, by one look of pity and sorrow, reproved Peter after he had denied him, and now as he boldly acknowledged his Lord, Peter was approved and blessed. As a token of the approbation of Jesus, he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
The chief priests dared not manifest the hate they felt towards the disciples. They commanded them to go aside out of the council, and they conferred among themselves, saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. They were afraid to have this good work spread. If it should spread, their power would be lost, and they would be looked upon as the murderers of Jesus. All that they dared to do was to threaten them, and command them to speak no more in the name of Jesus lest they die. But Peter declared boldly that they could but speak the things which they had seen and heard.
By the power of Jesus the disciples continued to heal every one of the afflicted and the sick which were brought to them. The high priests and elders, and those particularly engaged with them, were alarmed. Hundreds were enlisting daily under the banner of a crucified, risen and ascended Saviour. They shut the apostles up in prison, and hoped that the excitement would subside. Satan triumphed, and the evil angels exulted; but the angels of God were sent and opened the prison doors, and, contrary to the command of the high priest and elders, bade them go into the temple, and speak all the words of this life. The council assembled and sent for their prisoners. The officers unclosed the prison doors; but the prisoners whom they sought were not there. They returned to the priests and elders, and said to them, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors; but when we had opened we found no man within. Then came one and told them, saying, Behold the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence; for they feared the people lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council; and the high priest asked them, Did not we straitly command you, that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.
They were hypocrites, and loved the praise of men more than they loved God. Their hearts were hardened, and the most mighty acts wrought by the apostles only enraged them. They knew that if the disciples preached Jesus, his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, it would fasten guilt upon them, and proclaim them his murderers. They were not as willing to receive the blood of Jesus as when they vehemently cried, His blood be on us, and on our children.
The apostles boldly declared that they ought to obey God rather than man. Said Peter, The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Spirit whom God hath given to them that obey him. Then were those murderers enraged. They wished to imbrue their hands in blood again by slaying the apostles. They were planning how to do this, when an angel from God was sent to Gamaliel to move upon his heart to counsel the chief priest and rulers. Said Gamaliel, Refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught; but if it be of God ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. The evil angels were moving upon the priests and elders to put the apostles to death; but God sent his angel to prevent it, by raising up a voice in favor of the disciples in their own ranks.
The work of the apostles was not finished. They were to be brought before kings, to witness to the name of Jesus, and to testify to the things which they had seen and heard. But before these chief priests and elders let them go, they beat them, and commanded them to speak no more in the name of Jesus. They departed from the council praising God that they were accounted worthy to suffer for his dear name. They continued their mission, preaching in the temple and in every house where they were invited. The word of God grew and multiplied. Satan had moved upon the chief priests and elders to hire the Roman guard to falsely say that the disciples stole Jesus while they slept. Through this lie they hoped to conceal the facts; but, lo, springing up all around them were the mighty evidences of Jesus' resurrection. The disciples boldly declared it, and testified to the things which they had seen and heard, and through the name of Jesus they performed mighty miracles. They boldly placed the blood of Jesus upon those who were so willing to receive it, when they were permitted to have power over the Son of God.
I saw that the angels of God were commissioned to have a special care, and guard the sacred, important truths which were to serve as an anchor to hold the disciples of Christ through every generation.
The Holy Spirit especially rested upon the apostles, who were witnesses of Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection and ascension -- -important truths which were to be the hope of Israel. All were to look to the Saviour of the world as their only hope, and walk in the way Jesus opened by the sacrifice of his own life, and keep God's law and live. I saw the wisdom and goodness of Jesus in giving power to the disciples to carry on the same work which caused the Jews to hate and slay him. They had power given them over the works of Satan. They wrought signs and wonders through the name of Jesus, who was despised, and by wicked hands slain. A halo of light and glory clustered about the time of Jesus' death and resurrection, immortalizing the sacred facts that he was the Saviour of the world.
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