The court before which Peter and John were brought was the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of the Jews. Even in Roman times, it had the right to arrest. The one thing it could not do was to pass a death sentence, except in the single case of a Gentile who trespassed on the inner court of the Temple.
The Sanhedrin had seventy-one members. The High Priest was ex-officio president. In the Sanhedrin, most of the priests were Sadducees. Their one desire was to preserve the status quo so that their salaries might not be lessened. There were scribes who were the experts in the traditional law. There were Pharisees who were fanatics for the law. There were elders who were respected men in the community.
When we read Peter's speech and remember to whom it was spoken, we see one of the world's greatest demonstrations of courage. It was spoken to an audience of the wealthiest, the most intellectual and the most powerful in the country, and yet Peter, the Galilaean fisherman, stands before them rather as their judge than as their victim. This was the very same court that had condemned Jesus to death. Peter knew that he was taking his life into his own hands.
There are two kinds of courage. There is the reckless courage that is scarce when it is aware of the dangers it is facing. Then there is the "cool" courage that knows the peril in which it stands and refuses to give up. It was the second courage that Peter demonstrated. At that moment, he knew the danger in which he stood; nevertheless, he, also, was for going on.
Life Application: How courageous are you? Standing up for Jesus in our world today takes the "Peter" kind of courage. Our world needs to see stout-hearted men and women - people not afraid to "stand up for Jesus."
Praise/Prayer: Dear Father, I am again proud of those who have gone before me and have left a trail of victories. Father, they show me that the power of the Holy Spirit is all I need to take a stand for Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. I ask You to anoint me with that kind of boldness so that I can stand for Jesus' life. He demonstrated Your love and power before His world, and that is what I want to do. Amen!