“We cannot keep from proclaiming what we have seen and heard.”—Acts 4:20
Friends, during this season of Easter, I invite you to meditate on this simple but rather powerful line from the book of Acts: “We cannot keep from proclaiming what we have seen and heard.” Etch these words on your heart today, for the whole Christian faith rests upon the content of that proclamation.
First, let us enter the scene. The apostles Peter and John have just performed a miracle of healing. While entering the temple, they encounter a man born lame, and Peter, after looking intently upon him, commands him to walk “in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” Miraculously, as Peter draws him up, the man rises, stands, and begins to walk, “bounding and praising God.” We can only imagine the wonder and amazement of all those who beheld the miracle. Indeed, even the scribes and elders acknowledge it as “plain to all.” Yet out of fear for their own position, they order Peter and John to cease from speaking in the name of Jesus.
In reply to these threats, the apostles declare, “We cannot keep from proclaiming what we have seen and heard.”
What was it that the apostles so fearlessly proclaimed, even in the face of torture and death? Quite simply, they preached the truth of Christ crucified and raised from the dead, for the salvation of humanity. This core truth of Christianity, the kerygma, was not some abstract teaching but a lived, tactile reality experienced firsthand by the apostles. They had seen, talked with, and touched the risen Christ. His Resurrection was the stamp and seal of his divinity, the proof of all he had said. Indeed, there is an explosive, overpowering quality about the truth of the Resurrection. It is a bit like dynamite in one’s hands, a thing one does not keep but throws forth to the world.
When I first read the New Testament twenty years ago, long before my conversion to faith, I was awestruck even then by the sheer power of Christ’s presence. In those pages, I encountered a Person far more than teacher or prophet, but one who was perhaps what he claimed to be: the Son of God. There was an earth-shattering quality to this discovery. I felt I had stumbled upon something—rather, Someone—both eternal and historical at the same time. There was a light and truth in these pages which could not be contained by the closing of the book, no matter how hard I tried.
One does not encounter Christ and remain unchanged. Such was the case of the apostles; so too for all of us who have been given the grace of faith; and so too for all those who have yet to know Him.
Embracing the truth of Christ—God who became man, dwelt among us, who died for our sake and rose from the dead—is like stepping out of the darkness into a great blast of sunlight. It is so shocking and radical a truth that many people turn away from it, much as one might turn away from the sun. Yet the sun remains, and so too does Christ, waiting for us to open our hearts and minds to Him. Those who do face the light find a whole new world come into view, so vastly different from the world of shadows. Light cannot be contained, or suppressed, or denied; it is simply there, unveiling the reality of all things. So too the light of Christ, who floods the heart and mind of every believer.
Today, let us share in the zeal of the apostles, who could not stop proclaiming “what we have seen and heard.” In Christ, we have been given living water, the very light of the world. We are called to invite all souls to share in this gift of Our Lord. Meet others where they are in their lives, love them; and then in that spirit of love, dare to speak the name of Jesus, He who is “the way, the truth, and the life.”