Peter and John stood in front of the leaders of their tribe.
Imagine a random Catholic talking to the Pope and cardinals, an ordinary citizen in front of the Supreme Court or the President’s cabinet, a student in front of the university president and faculty, you in front of the people you grew up being taught to respect.
The formality of the setting is designed to remind you of the history of the tribe. Every person in the room is present because of intellect, scholarship, reputation, training.
Everyone but Peter and John.
Their families lived by the lake, but not in the resorts. They fished all night and then sold the fish to live. They didn’t have time to study, not beyond the basics that everyone learned.
Standing in this meeting room, Peter and John should have been tongue-tied, knock-kneed. They should have been silent when asked, “By what power or what name did you heal that man?” Instead, Peter reminded the leaders that they had killed Jesus, that God had brought Jesus back to life, and that the living Jesus was the name, the power, the authority they claimed when healing the lame man outside the temple.
These were gutsy words. This was the single most provocative thing to say to the people who had killed your rabbi because they were jealous of his power.
The leaders were astonished at the courage. They knew Peter and John were untrained, undereducated. The only remarkable thing about them, realized the leaders, is that Peter and John had been with Jesus.
Peter and John had spent three years listening to Jesus teach, watching Jesus challenge other teachers, seeing how Jesus healed. It wasn’t the same school as the authorities, but it was pretty solid training.
I think class is still in session.
First published in 2012. From Acts 4