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July 14 -- "Who Do You Think You Are?"

When someone says to you, “And who do you think you are?” we know that there is usually a negative aura around it, don’t we? For example: after sharing your opinion on some subject at a business meeting, one of those at the table says to you, “Who do you think you are to suggest that?” It is the business person's way of saying (without actually saying it) that you are beneath them and you need to know your place. Acts 4 could be titled the “Who do you think you are?” chapter in the Bible. The chapter opens with the priests, the captain of the temple police, and the Sadducees, coming out to hear Peter and John speak to the people. We are told that they were “much annoyed.” They were annoyed that these two were proclaiming that Jesus had been raised from the dead. But also part of their being annoyed was caused by the fact that the people were accepting the teachings from two undereducated fishermen. What right did they have to teach a religion class?! In other words, “Who do you think you are?” So they arrested Peter and John, that’ll teach’em. But before they walked away in handcuffs, we are told that “many of those who heard the word believed.” To stop these two, common-laborer fishermen from leading anymore Bible classes, the next day the religious leaders did a religious version of “shock and awe.” They pull out all the heavy hitters: the rulers, elders, scribes, Annas the high priest and even Caiaphas, John, and Alexander all who were of the high-priestly family showed up. Then, these two little men, were led out to stand before this awesome display of religious power and intellect and they are asked, . “By what power or by what name are you doing all this?” The real question though is: “Who do you think you are!” When Peter and John speak up, they don’t try to defend themselves with any fancy titles or claims of personal power. They speak only about Jesus and the power that Jesus had bestowed upon them and those in the new fledgling group called Christians. When they finish, Scripture records what the religious leaders were taken aback at the boldness of these two “uneducated and ordinary men.” – Who do they think they are? As it turns out, the temple leaders tell Peter and John to get lost and not to ever teach about Jesus in the temple again. Peter remains bold and replies by telling them that they will continue to share the good news of Jesus. Verse 21 then says, “After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them.” When Peter and John return to the gathering of Christians in Jerusalem and explain all that took place, verse 24 records their response: “They raised their voices together to God and rejoiced.” They rejoiced because in the face of the derogatory remark: Who do you think you are? They came to find that they were someone. And, as small, and un-powerful as they appeared, they had stared down a giant and the giant blinked! One day the great Oliver Wendell Holmes was walking down a street. A little girl joined him. When they came to a corner and the girl started walking off in a different direction than Holmes, the famed jurist said, “When your mother asks you where you’ve been, you just tell her you’ve been walking with Oliver Wendell Holmes.” The girl smiled and said she would and then added. And when you get home to your mom and dad and they ask you where you’ve been, tell them that you were walking with Mary Susanna Brown.” Now there’s a girl with a healthy sense of who she is. Who do you think you are? You are a child of God! You are empowered and filled with God’s Holy Spirit. You can move mountains and more importantly move hearts. That’s who you are! Thanks be to God! ~ Dan

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