And as they spoke to the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came on them,…
Two men disclaiming all original power excited Jewish society by the performance of a miraculous deed. The excitement became in the long run bewilderment. The Jewish leaders were completely baffled. The facts of Christianity have been awkward stumbling-blocks in the way of unbelief. Opponents can see two sides to a theory, but to a fact it is vain to oppose a suggestion of fancy or a jeer of ill will.
I. ON THE SIDE OF THE JEWISH LEADERS there was —
1. Illiberality. "Being grieved that they taught the people." The highest pre-Christian culture! Christ alone has shown Himself the friend of universal man — slave or king. Christianity has a universal appeal. It is not a taper, it is the sun.
2. Shortsightedness. They put the apostles in prison! Fools! They could not put God in prison! Had the apostles been original workers the imprisonment might have met the case. The apostles were put into prison because they did good to the diseased and instructed the ignorant. Christianity is still the physical and moral regenerator of the world. The only charge that can be brought against it is that it continually seeks to do good.
3. Impotence. "What shall we do?" etc. They "threatened" the apostles: that is, they shook their fists at the sun in order to darken the world! They stamped on the sea shore to repel the tide! They sent a message to the wind stating that they would henceforth be independent of air! We see how small men are when they set themselves against truth.
II. ON THE SIDE OF THE APOSTLES there was —
1. Complete intelligence within the sphere of their ministry. Though they were unlearned and ignorant men, yet within the compass of their work they were wise and efficient. This is the secret of success. Know what you do know. Do not venture beyond the line of your vocation. Every preacher is strong when he stands on fact and experience. Christians must not accept the bait which would draw them upon unknown or forbidden ground.
2. Unconquerable courage in narrating and applying facts. Look at —
(1) The dignity of the address.
(2) The calm and emphatic assertion of the name of Christ.
(3) The direct and special impeachment of the hearers. "Whom ye crucified." "Set at nought of you builders."Dignity is proper in the preachers of truth. Christ is the life of Christianity — beware of lauding the system and forgetting the Man. Accusation is the work of every Christian evangelist. Prove the world's crime.
3. Christian magnanimity in preaching the gospel (ver. 12).
(1) Man needs saving.
(2) All men, even Christ's murderers, may be saved.
(3) There is but one way of saving them.
4. Incorruptible loyalty to God and His truth (ver. 19). "Things that we have seen and heard." What a field! Missions at home and abroad — schools, labours, sacrifices, death-beds.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,