While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand. The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is “the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.” There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.’
When you are trying to annoy people, how do you do it? What’s your ‘go-to’ annoying habit? Peter and John were not really there to annoy anyone – but the leading religious leaders of the day were ‘much annoyed.’ I’m probably weird, but I find that funny. Not long before these events, Jesus had been going around the country, preaching Good News, healing the sick and generally doing good to everyone. That annoyed them to the point of condemning him to a slow agonising death. And now the disciples of Jesus were doing similar things – doing good, not for money or power or fame, but simply out of kindness.
We live in a world where selfishness is king. Politicians seek their own power, ministers divert taxpayers’ money in their own pockets or those of their friends, business leaders move their ‘tax residency’ in countries where they pay no tax. Looking after your own interests regardless of who gets hurt, is the way of our world. Judaea in the first century was no different.
In a self-serving world, selfless, gratuitous kindness is annoying. In a world full of greed, true generosity is annoying. In a world of ‘fake news’, truth is annoying – because all of these things reveal self-serving people for who they really are. They also reveal us for who we are.
Peter and John were annoying enough to end up in prison and before a religious tribunal. We have the same choice – we can join the world in their selfish disregard of our neighbour – or we can be annoyingly loving and kind.
Loving God, teach us to be like you. Help us to do good not because people will admire or applaud us, not because it gives us prestige or fame, but because we are your children, and because those whom the world casts aside are your children too. Give us annoyingly selfless love. Amen.