Acts 4:1 While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, 2 much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. 3 So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand. 5 The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.
Peter and John get hauled before the religious authorities after they had been teaching in the temple – which resulted in thousands of new followers of Jesus. Peter and John are asked, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” It’s a good question. After all, these authorities are tasked with being stewards of the Jewish faith in Jerusalem and aren’t quite sure what to make of these simple fishermen from Galilee whose teaching is creating such a commotion.
The elders are fundamentally “protectors” of their traditions. It’s their job to make sure false prophets and/or false teachers don’t lead the Jewish people astray. Peter and John, on the other hand, are “pioneers” – empowered by the Spirit to proclaim a new covenant of God manifest in Jesus the Christ. They lack the usual credentials of religious leadership, but the power of God in their ministry is hard to deny. So there is a tension in the early church years between protectors of what is and the pioneers of what will be.
This same tension is alive and well today – both within the church and within our society at-large. Where do we give something new a chance? Fact is, we either adapt or we die. Where do we hold fast to what has been? Not every new thing that comes along is a good idea. Lord Jesus, give us grace to know which is what. Amen.