Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; (Hebrews 12:1-2)
It takes guts and courage to be a Christian. The race that is set before us…following a life-script composed and managed by Jesus Christ the Creator of the universe, takes us to an innovative place far outside of worldly conventional thinking and practice.
Like the first-century dispute answered well by Jesus about the resurrection of the dead (Mk. 12:26-27)… buried right on the surface within the discourse between God and Moses at the burning bush familiar to every Jew in that day (Ex. 3:6)…this simple truth about Christian guts and courage again is hiding right there in plain sight for us in the New Testament scriptures. Conventional wisdom would strongly council Jesus to stay away from Jerusalem for several months or even years for His own safety (Jn. 11:8). But Jesus is not living His life according to conventional wisdom…far from it. Jesus is perfectly living a God-composed walk of faith as the Lamb of God Savior for mankind (Jn. 5:30). Jesus goes back to Jerusalem the week of that fateful Passover, is crucified on Friday, and rises from the tomb on Sunday morning to become the author of salvation to all those who will place their faith in Him.
There is an exceptionally rare storyline going on here, soaring out of sight above horizontally conventional thinking (1 Cor. 1:25). The life of Jesus, especially concerning the dramatic events leading up to Calvary, is as divergent from the worldly accepted expectations and aspirations of conventional normalcy as is possible. It took the most sublime guts and courage, walking along the most unconventionally unimaginable life-path, to be the Savior of the world…Jesus Christ. It takes a similar measure of guts and courage to likewise be a follower of Jesus Christ in the first-century and today.
Listen to the words spoken by Peter standing before the Sanhedrin council recorded in Acts 4:8-12:
8 Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made well;
10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11 This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
The underlying boldness and precision supporting these brilliantly concise words regarding the Person and resurrection of Jesus Christ were set in motion entirely through the supernatural works of God alone. The adventure of faith ride that Peter and John are experiencing at this moment is engineered by God. The events of the rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection that Peter is speaking about are, first and foremost, divinely crafted, shaped, and channeled by God (Isa. 53:3; Ps. 22:16; Ps. 16:10). The entire scenario of the crippled man healed at the gate of the temple, leading to this momentous confrontation between the old and the new at the beginning of the new covenant Christian church in Jerusalem, is totally set up and manufactured by God. Peter is not testifying here, before the Sanhedrin council in Jerusalem, about anything that he has done, using worldly wisdom or cleverly persuasive oratory. The message, power of conviction, and clarity by which Peter speaks are inspired and energized by the Holy Spirit.
The transforming progression of the culminating events of Peter’s early discipleship phase, tell us about the perilous but liberating danger zone where the living God will take us if we will simply follow after Him in faith. Peter’s denial of Christ in the courtyard (Lk. 22:61-62), his personal interview with the risen Jesus on resurrection morning (Lk 24:34), to “I go a fishing” (Jn. 21:3) and “Feed my sheep” (Jn. 21:16), the command to wait in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4), and the stupendous breakthrough on Pentecost (Acts 2), is the story of a God-made man. Only God has the capacity to create a God-made man. Only God has the divine creative imagination and loving motivation to invent such a context of unconventional events and circumstances wherein changed people, having new spiritual hearts, can function and excel. No humanistic program on earth could or would do this. It takes real guts and courage to follow Jesus into a danger zone adventure that is outside of worldly conventional normalcy.
If we could see Jesus present and looking on at the scene of Peter and John courageously defending the new gospel message before the Sanhedrin, we might see Him off to one side at “stage right” with the unmistakable look of loving pride and satisfaction on His face at the progress in character these two young men, starting out as mere fishermen, had made in so short a time. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter and John were stepping up into the role Jesus had trained them for, and the world would never be the same again.
This is what a biblical-quality journey of faith is designed to accomplish. This is what The Christian Life in the Danger Zone can achieve, in world-shaking non-conformity, far above the horizontally safe expectations of worldly conventional mediocrity (Rom. 12:2; Acts 17:6).