And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and taught. Now the high priest came and those who were with him and called together the council and all the senate of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, and they returned and reported, "We found the prison securely locked and the sentries standing at the doors, but when we opened it we found no one inside." Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were much perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. And some one came and told them, "The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people." Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."
Remember the story of Daniel in the lion's den? You may remember that the morning after, having left Daniel to spend the night with the hungry lions, King Darius came to the lion's den, crying out to Daniel (if he was there) and not really expecting him to be alive. When I read this I wonder if Luke wrote this with that event (Daniel 6:19-24) in mind. There is humour in it. But Luke is also trying to convey how these confused religious leaders were swamped by their own fears.
We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.
Keep in mind that they are confronting Peter - Peter the one who denied Jesus three times in the High Priest's courtyard. It was the High Priest's servant who had then recognised him. But clearly now Peter was restored. Peter was standing there, confessing faith his Master, and it was a miracle for those who had eyes to see it. But Luke tells us that the religious leaders not only could not see it, they would not see it. They were driven. They interpreted these developments as personal attacks. The apostles, they decided, had to be driven by hate and revenge. As Luke tells it the religious leaders couldn't see it in any other way.
But Peter did not accept this and held the line. Our faith in God has been fulfilled by God raising His own Son from the grave. God's mercy triumphs over judgment. Forgiveness of sins is not just a hope but a fact confirmed by the Holy Spirit Himself. Peter's appeal to the religious leaders could not have been stronger. God's love has been poured out. Believe it. Receive it!