IN those days many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by. A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.
Then the high priest took action. He and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, “Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.”
Christ is risen!
"Signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles" - first thing to note, it was not the apostles doing these signs and wonders, but these things were done through them, meaning it was God Who acted through the apostles. Another point of interest, why were these signs done? Signs and wonders were not ends in themselves, they were not done to show how magical this new religion that the apostles were preaching is. The signs and wonders were done in order to strengthen and encourage the apostles in their dangerous preaching of the Gospel and for the conversion of the people. Signs and wonders were the manifestation of the fullness of Christian faith.
"None of the rest dared to join them" - even with the signs and wonders performed through the apostles, people were a bit hesitant to join this new movement because they feared to give a halfhearted commitment because of what happened to Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11).
With faith, marriage, career, or most other things in our life, giving a halfhearted commitment is not going to fly. We can't mess around, we are either all in, or not in at all. Now, this does not mean that we don't struggle along the way (with doubt for example), but the commitment needs to be there.
But even with this fear, "more than ever believers were added to the Lord." People were hesitant, yet the facts before their eyes were undeniable - Whoever these apostles believed in, did great things through them.
Even through Peter's shadow God was able to heal people. This passage reveals how God works through physical creation. Anything and anyone can be an instrument in God's hands, to perform His work in this world.
This activity of evangelization and preaching of the Gospel deeply bothered people who thought they had taken care of this new movement when they crucified their Teacher. The Sadducees were an aristocratic sect, so they had some political influence, hence their ability to arrest the apostles.
But an angel appeared to them in the prison. He rescued them, but not for them to escape. The angel told them to go back to doing what they were arrested for in the first place. Go and preach! The fact that the apostles would return to the place of their arrest was an open testimony to their enemies that they were willing to die for the truth they were proclaiming. There are only two sorts of people who would die for the things they say - lunatics or those who are absolutely convinced in the truth of their message.
Which one are you?
Yours in the risen Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest