From the miniseries "The Bible" on The History Channel
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
“Uneducated, common men.”|
That was not a compliment.
Here’s how The Voice translates this verse:
“Now the leaders were surprised and confused. They looked at Peter and John and realized they were typical peasants—uneducated, utterly ordinary fellows—with extraordinary confidence. The leaders recognized them as companions of Jesus.”
So what we have is this:
- The Jewish leaders were astonished by the boldness of Peter and John.
- They weren’t impressed with their background.
- They realized that they had been with Jesus.
But how did they know this?
It wasn’t in their education. They had no formal religious training.
It wasn’t in their credentials. They had none.
It wasn’t in their religious pedigree. They didn’t have one.
It was in the Spirit-filled boldness that was born out of knowing Jesus.
Consider the context. Peter and John have just healed a crippled man at the Temple (Acts 3:1-10). When a crowd gathers, Peter seizes the moment to preach a gospel message (Acts 3:11-26). After they are arrested and thrown in jail, Peter addresses the religious leaders (Acts 4:1-12). In thinking about what he said, it helps to remember one key fact:
He is standing in front of murderers.
These are the men who conspired to kill Jesus a few weeks earlier.
It’s all to his credit that he didn’t back down. He clearly identifies their guilt and God’s declaration concerning his Son:
“Jesus . . . whom you crucified” (10).
“Jesus . . . whom God raised” (10).
He concludes with a clarion call:
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
It has been well said that a crisis never made any man. It only reveals what he already is. In this case, the crisis of their arrest revealed the truth about Peter and John.
The religious leaders couldn’t figure them out.
They couldn’t deny the healing.
They couldn’t deny their boldness.
Why were they not intimidated?
How then would they explain these men?
How could these “uneducated, ordinary fellows” make such an impact?
Why were they not intimidated by their arrest?
How could they dare to speak so freely?
What was their secret?
When the religious leaders considered all the facts, they came to one simple conclusion:
They had been with Jesus.
No fact is more important for our consideration today. All around us we see signs of the diminishing impact of Christianity on our culture. We bemoan the advance of secularism as we watch the crumbling of social institutions that have stood in place for thousands of years. We wonder why Christians have lost our influence in society. I think this verse offers us a very clear answer.
The early Christians turned the world upside down because they had a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. That single fact explains the boldness of the first generation of believers who took the gospel from Jerusalem across the Roman Empire. They would not fit into the ordinary categories of religion.
You can be around Jesus and yet not be with him
It was more than just knowledge.
It was more than a few prayers.
It was more than religion as a hobby.
It was something that produced a dynamic power that transformed ordinary men into bold witnesses for Christ. Yet it had nothing to do with a degree or a seminary education.
You can read the rest of the sermon online.