Episode NT39 – Peter and John on Trial

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – New Testament

Based on Acts chapter 4 verses 1 to 31

A miracle had taken place right outside the Temple in Jerusalem. And now, inside the temple area, a man crippled from birth was walking, leaping and praising God that he’d been healed. Maybe if that’d been all that had happened, then those in charge of the temple may have looked on and done no more. But Peter, one of the followers of Jesus, had started to teach the crowds, saying that through Jesus there was life after death – something that the ruling Sadducees refused to believe! This man and his friend had to be silenced – how dare they teach such lies!

So, while they were still speaking to the crowds, the Priests, the captain of the Temple guard and the unbelieving Sadducees – came and arrested Peter, John and the man who’d been healed. And, because it was evening, they put them in jail, waiting until the next day before they took matters further! But even though the apostle’s Peter and John had been arrested and locked away from the crowds, the message they’d taught in the Temple was remembered by the people who’d heard it, and many believed what they’d heard, so that the number of men who believed, without counting women and children, grew to about 5000.

The next day, the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law gathered together to consider what should be done with the apostles. Both Annas and Caiaphas were there, the leaders who’d overseen the death of Jesus. Then the prisoners were brought before them.

As Peter and John were brought before the leaders, the words Jesus had spoken must have rung in their ears, ‘You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will be accused before kings and governors of being my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me. So don’t worry about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply!’ (P) Well, now was such a time when they were going to need Jesus to give them the words to reply to the questions that were about to come their way.

As they stood before the council, the leaders demanded, ‘By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?’

Once again being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter replied, ‘Rulers and elders of our people, if you’re asking us to explain our act of kindness to a crippled man and how he was healed, you all need to know this: He has been healed in the name and by the power of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. This is how the Scriptures talk about Jesus, they say, ‘The stone that you builders rejected – has now become the stone which holds everything together.’ You can’t be saved in any other way! Because there is no one else in all of heaven that people can call on to save them except Jesus!

Some of the leaders sat there open-mouthed – amazed at the boldness of Peter and John, especially as they were just ordinary men without any religious teaching. But at the same time, they also realised that these men had been with Jesus. (P) The leaders were at a loss as to what to do, particularly as the man who’d been healed was standing right there with them. So they ordered that the three of them be put outside the room so they could talk about what to do next.

‘What’re we going to do with them?’ they asked each other. ‘The whole of Jerusalem knows they’ve done an outstanding miracle and there’s no way we can deny it. But we have to stop this thing spreading.’ So they agreed to warn the apostles not to speak about Jesus again!

Peter, John and the healed man were called back to hear their judgement. ‘This is our decision,’ the Sadducees and leaders said, ‘you are not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus ever again!’

Peter and John shook their heads. What the leaders were asking was impossible; how could they stop now? So looking at the council they replied, ‘Well, you must judge for yourselves what’s right in God’s sight, whether we obey you or we obey God. You see we just can’t help speaking about all that we’ve seen and heard.’

The council were none too impressed with this answer and, before letting them go, threatened the apostles in an effort to make them stop talking about Jesus. But even though they wanted all talk of Jesus to end, the council couldn’t work out how to punish the apostles because all the people were praising God for what’d happened, not least because the man who’d been healed had been lame for more than 40 years!

Having left the council, Peter and John hurried back to the other disciples. When they arrived, they told them all that’d happened, and how the leaders had tried to stop them talking about Jesus.

The disciples listened carefully and realised that this mustn’t happen, they mustn’t hold back from talking about Jesus to everyone, no matter what trouble it got them into. And so they did the most important thing they could do. As one large group, they all raised their voices to God in prayer. ‘Lord,’ they prayed, ‘hear these people’s threats against us, and give us, your servants, great boldness as we speak about you. And stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’

As they finished praying, the building they were meeting in was shaken – and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And, in answer to their prayer, God enabled them to speak with great boldness about Jesus.

Episode NT38 – A Crippled Beggar

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – New Testament

Based on Acts chapter 3 verses 1 to 20

Story 38 – A Crippled Beggar

The people in the temple came running from all directions! Once again something truly incredible had taken place – a miracle! And there he was! The beggar they’d seen almost every day on their way to the temple. But HE WAS no longer sitting on the floor with his mis-shapen and useless ankles and feet in front of him, instead he was jumping and walking and praising God while hanging on to a couple of men as he learnt how to balance on feet that’d never walked before! What was happening? What had these men done? How’d he been healed so completely and so quickly? A crowd started to gather around the three men, and then one of the men motioned for silence and shouted out in a loud voice, ‘Men of Israel, why do you look at us as though we’ve made this man walk by our own power? No! It is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our Fathers who has brought glory to Jesus by doing this thing!’ (P)

This thing,’ the healing of the lame man, had happened just five minutes before. Peter and John, apostles of Jesus, had been on their way to the temple to take part in the afternoon prayer service when, at the same time, a man crippled from birth in his ankles and feet had been brought to sit at the temple gate called ‘Beautiful’. Each day he was carried to the temple to beg for money from the people going in, hoping that a few of them would give him something.

As Peter and John were about to enter through the temple gate, the man asked them for money. (P) That’s when things started to happen that no one expected. Somehow the Holy Spirit spoke to Peter and John and both of them stopped and looked intently at the man.

Look at us!’ Peter said, and the lame man looked up at them, certain they were going to give him some money! But instead of getting out his purse, Peter spoke. ‘I don’t have silver or gold to give you,’ he said, and a slightly puzzled look came over the beggar’s face. ‘But what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!’

After saying this, Peter leant forward, took the man by the right hand and helped him to his feet! And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles which had been so useless that he’d never walked, were healed and strengthened! As Peter helped him, the lame man, now completely healed – jumped up, stood on his feet and began to walk! He’d never walked before in his whole life! Then, walking, leaping into the air and praising God, the three of them went into the Temple together!

That’s when the commotion took place and everyone rushed over to them. The man couldn’t hold himself back as he learnt to walk while holding tightly on to Peter and John, and in a loud voice he praised God that he’d been healed! So there they were, a vast crowd surrounding them, while Peter spoke to them all about Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the one who’d been crucified a few months earlier.

The Jesus who’s healed this man,’ Peter continued, ‘is the same Jesus YOU handed over and rejected in front of Pilate even though Pilate had decided to let Him go!’

Many of them could remember the day they’d stood before Pilate, and the mood of the crowd as they’d shouted for Barabbas to be released. And then, when Pilate had asked, how they’d screamed for Jesus to be crucified!

But Peter was still talking, ‘You rejected the holy, righteous One and instead demanded the release of a murderer. You killed the author of life, but God – raised Him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this FACT! It is by trusting in the name of Jesus that this complete healing has come about – as you can all see.’

A terrible feeling of guilt came over the crowd as Peter carried on, ‘Brothers, I know that what you did to Jesus was done because you didn’t realise who He was, and the same can be said of your leaders. But when it happened, God was at work fulfilling what the prophets had said about the Messiah beforehand – that He must suffer these things. Now turn away from your sins and turn back to God so that you can be made clean from your sins and so that wonderful times of refreshment can come from the Lord …’

But even while Peter spoke, and the crowd marvelled at the wonderful healing of the man and all that Peter was telling them about Jesus, worried and hate-filled eyes looked on – ready to silence the apostles!

Episode NT27 – Jesus Clears the Temple

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – New Testament

Based on Matthew chapter 21 verses 12 to 32

Jesus Clears the Temple

DISCIPLE ANDREW ‘Hi, I’m Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, one of Jesus’ disciples. We’d seen Jesus come to Jerusalem with crowds singing His praises and throwing their cloaks on the ground before Him as He rode a young donkey. And just like us, we knew that the crowd thought Jesus was the Messiah who’d come to rule Israel and set us free from the Romans. (P) Funny thing that He should’ve chosen a young donkey to ride on though, because a warrior king would have chosen a warhorse. A donkey spoke more – about peace! But then again, Jesus kept trying to tell us that He wasn’t going to be the kind of Messiah we expected.’ (PAUSE)

‘When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, and the donkey had been sent home, Jesus went to the temple – the most Holy place in Israel. But when He got there He kind of went crazy – or so we thought. The temple was where all the sacrifices took place, and this was very important because when normal people, like us disciples, came to the temple, we would say sorry to God for our sins, and instead of us being put to death for our sins like the law demands – for all those who break God’s laws deserve to die – the animal was put to death in our place. When this happened, when the animal died in our place, God forgave us.’

‘But the leaders in the temple had worked out how to make lots of money from this. Firstly, they said that they had to provide the animals for sacrifice and so we had to buy them in the temple and not bring our own. Then, we weren’t allowed to use our own money to buy the animals. We had to exchange our own money for special temple money which we could then use to buy the animals and whatever else we needed. This way, the leaders and the chief priests made a lot of money out of the people as they came to try and worship God.’

‘Anyway, as I was saying, when Jesus arrived in the temple, He went kind of crazy – as in He got very angry!! I guess He must have seen what was going on, that the ordinary people were being cheated, and that all that mattered to the leaders was making money. First, Jesus drove out all the merchants and their customers! Then, and we couldn’t believe our eyes when He did this, He turned over the tables of the moneychangers, scattering both the temple money and the ordinary money all over the floor! Not only that, but He also knocked over the stalls of those who were selling doves for sacrifice, and then refused to let anyone into the temple who was bringing in merchandise of any type! And as He did this He shouted, ‘The Scriptures say, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!’’

‘We just watched – open-mouthed! This was going to cause real problems with the chief priests! But after Jesus had done this, showing how unhappy He was that the place for meeting God had become a place for making money – the blind and the lame came and found Him. They came to Him in the temple and He healed them all!’

‘The chief priests and teachers of the law saw all these wonderful miracles and, to their disgust, as Jesus healed these people, some children started shouting, ‘Praise God for the Son of David.’’

‘‘Have you heard what these children are saying?’ they asked, furiously.’

‘’Yes, I have,’ Jesus replied. ‘But haven’t you read what the Scriptures say? They say, ‘From the mouths of children and infants you have prepared praise.’ After this, we went back to Bethany and stayed there overnight.’ (PAUSE)

‘Next morning as we headed back to Jerusalem I felt sure Jesus would be in trouble with the chief priests and teachers of the law for the way He’d cleared out the temple, so when we arrived I wasn’t surprised to see a group of them waiting to talk to Him. ‘By whose authority did you drive out the merchants from the Temple yesterday? they demanded. ‘Who gave you this authority?’’

 ‘Jesus looked at the group of them but instead of answering their question, He asked one of His own. ‘I will tell you who gave me the authority to do all these things if you can answer one simple question. John’s baptism, did it come from heaven or was it merely a human thing?’’

‘The group huddled together to discuss the problem through. ‘What’re we going to say?’ they asked. ‘If we say it was a heavenly thing, then Jesus will ask us why we didn’t believe John. And, if we say it was a human thing, the crowd’ll mob us because they’re convinced John was a prophet.’ So after some more discussion they said to Jesus, ‘We don’t know.’’

‘’Well then,’ replied Jesus. ‘I won’t answer your question either! Instead,’ He continued, ‘think about this. A man with two sons told his older son, ‘Son, would you go and do some work in the field for me today?’ The son replied, ‘No, I’m not going to do that.’ But later on he changed his mind and went and did what his father had asked him to do. Then, the father went and found his other son and said the same thing to him. ‘Yes, of course, I’ll go,’ said the younger son. But in fact, he didn’t go at all. (P) Which of the two sons obeyed their father?’’

‘‘The first one of course,’ answered the group of chief priests and teachers of the law.’

‘Then looking at them closely Jesus explained the meaning of the story: ‘I’ll tell you a fact!’ He said, ‘Corrupt tax collectors and all kinds of wicked people are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you! For John came and showed you the way of being right with God, and you didn’t believe him. But the tax collectors and wicked people did, and have become right with God themselves – turning away from their sins! And even after you saw this, you still refused to turn from your sins and believe him.’’