All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. (verses 32-35)
“Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (verse 30). That was the last line of the believers’ impassioned prayer, right before their meeting place was shaken and each person filled with the Holy Spirit.
This present passage follows immediately. I’m on the edge of my seat, eyes peeled, waiting to see my own expected fulfilment of “signs and wonders.” How extraordinary might it be! What would you expect?
Perhaps we’ll both be surprised. What we see immediately are not the miracles of healing and power I had anticipated, but three miraculous sightings, nonetheless.
(1) “All the believers were one in heart and mind” (verse 32).
Seemingly so plain and ordinary, yet this statement is perhaps one of the greatest miracles on offer. Under the best of circumstances, unity of heart and mind can be a scarce commodity, fragile at best. But under pressure, as in this circumstance, it is increasingly easy for cracks to form and tensions tighten and relationships fracture. I think it is no mistake this sentence follows immediately on from the believers’ prayer. This is a miracle, a tangible answer to the profound prayer of Jesus himself on the night before his crucifixion, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you" (John 17:21). In a day when so many things threaten to divide believers (vaccines, masks, politics of right and left, sexual ethics, transgender issues, worship wars, petty rivalries, bitter memories, poisoned words, and on and on), to be one in heart and mind is a wondrous sign indeed – a sign of God’s very presence. Powerful.
(2) “They shared everything they had” (verse 32). The Lord has graced us with physical bodies. They’ve been tuned to experience the goodness of creation, mediated through all our senses. What a gift. But perhaps such physicality has a downside. Does it set us up to clutch desperately to what is currently in our own hands, fearful that what we have may not last? It seems likely, for generosity doesn’t come easily. A whole community of people who do not claim their own stuff as their own stuff, would be a wonder to behold. It begins to look like Jesus himself, who freely gave his very life as a ransom. Powerful.
(3) “The apostles continued to testify” (verse 33). The religious leaders had commanded Peter and John not to speak any longer in Jesus’ name (Acts 4:18) – literally, they told them not to make any sound, not even a peep. They thought they’d made their point. But the bold prayer of the believers countered that command, praying that they might all be empowered to speak boldly. It is in fact the first thing we’re told after the building was shaken: they “spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31). This is a sign for the world (here is life) and a wonder (the grace of God is poured out in Jesus). Powerful.
May the signs and wonders of the gospel, together with healings and miracles and touches of his grace, continue among us. To his glory.
Lord, may you work signs of your goodness among us, wonders of your grace, miracles of your presence, and sightings of the name of Jesus. To his glory. Amen.
Reflect: Which aspect of these early believers’ life (unity, sharing, testifying) do you find most challenging? Offer it to the Lord, asking him to evidence it through you.
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash