- in the Name of Jesus, they healed a man who had been lame from birth, which created quite a stir;
- they attributed the lame beggar’s healing to the power & authority of Jesus Christ;
- they declared the error & injustice of the conviction & crucifixion of Jesus;
- they declared that Jesus is the Christ & that God raised Him from the dead;
- they challenged all who heard them to repent of their own sins & to put their faith in Jesus;
- finally, as a result of the healing (& of Peter’s message to the crowd) several more thousand men put their faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:4)
The next day, they were called to give testimony in regard to the charges against them by the Jewish High Council, the Sanhedrin. The High Priest demanded to know, “By what power or by what name did you do this (heal the lame beggar)?” Acts 4:8-12 states:
Then Peter, FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT (all emphasis mine) said to them, “Rulers of the people & elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to ALL of you & to ALL the people of Israel that by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God RAISED from the dead – by HIM this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders which has become the cornerstone. And there is SALVATION found in NO ONE ELSE for there is NO OTHER NAME under heaven given among en by which we must be saved.”
Pretty incredible stuff… all who heard him speak were stunned: the High Council, all of those hearing it in the courtroom, & ME reading it thousands of years later.
Consider that this is the same Peter who denied even KNOWING Christ three times a few short weeks before, & now he is declaring, with boldness, conviction, & prophetic insight that Jesus is the Christ, that believing into His Name is the only means to receive salvation, & he is quoting Old/First Testament passages & attributing their fulfillment to the bad judgment & actions of the High Council. These powerful men were used to having ordinary people cower in front of them because they held the power of being able to revoke participation in Temple worship (or worse.) But in this situation, they were stunned. Acts 4:13 continues:
Now when they saw the BOLDNESS of Peter and John, & perceived that they were UNEDUCATED, COMMON men, they were astonished. And they recognized that THEY HAD BEEN WITH JESUS.
As I read over this passage I am struck by the contrast between the 2 groups of people in this religious courtroom: the High Council, men who were educated to the highest levels possible, experts in the Torah/Biblical law, steeped in Jewish traditions from their earliest days. Wearers of fine, expensive clothes, highly respected in society, even among the Romans.
Peter & John, common fishermen from Galilee; uncultured, uneducated & unrefined, who had long since been passed over as not good enough-smart enough-enough enough candidates to be a talmidim (or disciple). They had little to no social standing, & up until about 3 years prior, had been living largely anonymous lives, scraping out a living day-by-day. Until Jesus called them. And then they spent (just about) every day with Him for more than 3 years. And by being WITH Him, they were changed. And it was evident to all.
I love this. I can’t necessarily be remarkable according the standards of the world we live in – educationally, economically, culturally, etc. But I CAN be WITH Jesus.
One of the other things that this story brings up for me is the idea of being “ordinary.” When I think about being “ordinary” I wonder if somehow I’ve failed. If I’ve not given enough or tried hard enough, or I settled for less than what I could have if I’d only… And yet I wonder if those thoughts come from an idea/set of values & worth rooted in what I DO more than what I am?
If I think I’m exceptional, that I’m above the crowd in ability, intelligence, & any/all other ways to measure myself against others, I run the risk of valuing my self much higher than I possibly should… while at the same time devaluing people who I am… well, better than. I can start to get proud of me & all I can do. And pride is a killer.
2000 years ago Jesus chose these ordinary, uneducated, common men & women to be His disciples, the ones He would serve as His ambassadors to the world… & He did it to show that when we are WITH HIM, all we are (or all we are not) in our natural selves doesn’t really matter. That WITH HIM, we’re just fine.
Even if we’re ordinary. Some food for thought.
Have a great week.