Isaiah reminds us that God is the Creator and His Being is everlasting and immeasurable. So, God Himself never grows weak or weary; rather He gives His power and strength to those who are weak and powerless.
“As Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, a young lion suddenly attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah. At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat” (Judges 14:6, NLT).
Samson was an enigmatic leader who was an inspirational but flawed hero.
“Jesus replied, Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven” (Mark 12:24-25, NLT).
The Sadducees based their views on the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, and they were fond of debating about Jewish religious teachings. They didn’t believe in the resurrection from the dead and so they asked Jesus a question about resurrection and framed it as a question about marriage.
Jesus recognized their hypocrisy and addressed their real question directly from the very Scriptures they purported to believe.
But, Jesus prefaced His remarks with this piercing accusation: You don’t know the Scriptures and so you don’t know the power of God!
“When they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke with them and said, ‘Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:49-52, HCSB).
Have you ever read a familiar passage in the Bible and found something new in it? That’s what happened to me as I read again this familiar story of Jesus walking on the water.
Admittedly, Mark’s version of this story does not include an important element described in Matthew’s account (Matthew 14:22-33). In Matthew’s version, Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk on the water toward Jesus until he notices the wind and the waves, and consequently, begins to sink. So Peter’s faith (or lack of it) is usually the focus of this story for us.
Before Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the five thousand (or ten or fifteen thousand, actually), He first commanded the disciples to feed them!
Now His command could be interpreted in two ways. Either Jesus was commanding the disciples to let Him empower them to perform the miracle or He was trying to teach them a lesson about God’s miraculous provisioning.
We usually interpret His command to the disciples in terms of the latter, but let’s take the perspective that He was actually commanding them to feed the five or ten or fifteen thousand.
“So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit…Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye…Then he said….the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind…When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.” (Acts 13:4,9-12, NLT)
Barnabas and Paul’s first missionary journey was undertaken by the leading and in the power the Holy Spirit.
“When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness” (Acts 4:31, HCSB).
Because Peter and John had healed a man who was lame from birth by the power of God and “were teaching the people and proclaiming the resurrection from the dead, using Jesus as the example” (vs. 2), the Sadducees became provoked.
These religious authorities did not believe in resurrection because they did not think it was taught in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament, which was the only portion of Scripture they believed authoritative.
So they had Peter and John arrested!
When Peter and John appeared before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious tribunal, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly, passionately and persuasively proclaimed the gospel of Jesus to save and heal to these religious leaders.
The members of the Sanhedrin were amazed by the boldness of Peter and John, knowing they were not formally educated in the Jewish law. So, the Sanhedrin turned them loose but forbid them to preach and teach in the name of Jesus.
Peter and John answered that they could not stop telling the story of Jesus.
The boldness of Peter in this situation stands in contrast to his denial of Christ on the night of His arrest before He was crucified.
Boldness is referenced three times in Acts 4:1-31 (vs. 13, 29, 31):
- The boldness of Peter and John was observed by the Jewish religious leaders (vs. 13);
- the Church in Jerusalem prayed for boldness to proclaim the gospel (vs. 29); and
- the Church was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness (vs. 31).
Being bold is both a desired and essential behavior for Christians. Boldness was needed by the disciples in the early Church. Boldness is needed in the Church today!
Besides helping us speak the right words at the right time, boldness helps us persuade people about the truth of the gospel because they can see that we actually believe what we say they should believe.
We should pray and ask God for boldness and then expect God to empower us with boldness to speak and live righteously as a convincing witness and testimony to the gospel of Jesus in our lives.