Long before we had television or the internet, we had ‘town criers.’
I was reminded of this while watching a repeat of an old black-and-white television show ‘To Tell the Truth’ the other day. Three gentlemen all claimed to be a British town crier. A town crier was someone employed to make public announcement in the streets or marketplace of a town who usually drew attention to himself by wearing a distinctive costume and calling out “Oyez, Oyez” (or “Hear Ye, Hear Ye”). He usually utilized a handbell to help him draw attention.
It was much the same in Jesus’ day. People would gather to hear someone speak when they claimed to have big news. Peter and John, these simple men, one of whom was an uneducated fisherman, took on the job of being the town criers of their day. They had important news to deliver to those in Jerusalem where Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, their families and many others could hear. They were eager to impart the truth to all those willing to listen.
Acts 4:10-12- 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. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Peter may have been a fisherman by trade, but he knew enough about the building process to deliver his ‘news’. He was eager for people to hear about Jesus and began preaching to crowds of people. The temple leaders were not happy about this. Five thousand people suddenly becoming believers was a direct threat to the Sanhedrin threatened their power structure. What’s more, they were concerned as they knew the words of the prophet Isaiah 28: 16 & 17- Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
The line and plumbline (cornerstone) is important in construction as you need to have a square as your foundation for a building.
Peter and John are stating the news that Jesus has fulfilled what the Old Testament prophets had predicted by his death and resurrection. Even today, people are bothered when Christians become ‘town criers’ in an effort to spread the good news. We rock their boat as they want to rewrite God’s plan to be correct in their own minds.
Peter and John are, however, simply explaining the truth: for there is NONE other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Much as many do not want to hear or accept, God’s word is clear. There is no doubt or ambiguity…only through Christ can we be saved. He is the foundation of our life.