On a recent read through the book of Acts, I was startled by the apostles’ boldness. “You killed the Christ,” they told their audience more than once.
The varying responses to this claim are fascinating.
Peter gave his famous sermon at Pentecost which ended with “…this Jesus whom you crucified” (2:36). The response of his listeners? “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (2:37). They were cut to the heart. Convicted. And they wanted to know the steps to restoration.
Later, Peter and John made a similarly blunt claim (4:10). Their boldness astonished the religious leaders, who told them not to talk about Jesus anymore (4:18). Shhh. Now, just run along and don’t disturb the peace.
But the apostles didn’t stop being bold, which landed them in prison. “…you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us,” complained the high priest (5:28). But the apostles answered with yet another claim that the leaders had killed Jesus “by hanging on a tree” (5:30). When the council heard this, they were so angry that they wanted to kill the apostles (5:33).
Then courageous Stephen proclaimed before his accusers, “…the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered…” (7:52).
But by now, the religious leaders had had enough. “Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him” (7:54). And then they stoned him to death.
Each time the apostles spoke these words, their hearers had the chance to respond to the burn of the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Some were cut to the heart. Some tried to quench the Spirit’s voice. Some were enraged, gnashed their teeth, and murdered.
What about me? What about you? How do we respond to conviction?