“When they saw the courage of Peter and John, and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished. And they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
Let me give some context to this verse. This is after Jesus died. After Peter went back to being a fisherman—interestingly enough, John was with his crew that said “we’ll go with you”—so after they fished, after Jesus said ‘Follow me’. Jesus spoke his last words and went up to heaven. After that, the disciples knew it was game time. There was no more going back; their lives were radically changed and they lived that out. Thing started happening. These men had lived learned from Jesus, but his physical body was no longer with them. He promised the Holy Spirit, and Peter and John began preaching and teaching. They went full force. They were spreading the word, meeting with people, devoting their time to studying scripture and listening to teachings. These guys were all in.
As they were headed to the temple, they came across a man who was ‘lame’. From birth, this man was unable to walk. The man was a beggar, and he asked Peter and John to help him out. Peter told the man he didn’t have any gold or silver to give him, but what he could give him he would. Peter spoke these words: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
This man got up. And he walked. And he praised God.
Peter and John didn’t really see it as a huge deal. They knew the power the name of Jesus held. But the people—the people saw this to be extraordinary. This man sat outside the temple every day begging. Everyone knew this man was unable to walk from birth. So when he’s skipping around praising God, people begin to notice. Peter saw everyone’s interest peak, so before credit could land on him, he said this:
“Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom YOU delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But YOU denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you (who was that murderer?) and YOU killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name-by faith in his name-has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.”
Peter stops them right where they are. “Wait, you are interested now? Now you care? You’re the ones who handed over Jesus to Pilate. You’re the ones who asked for a murderer to go free so that Jesus would be killed on a tree. The man you denied-he’s the one who made this man walk.”
Believe it or not, this didn’t go over super well. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and captain of the temple showed up, and Peter and John were arrested. The next day, the rulers, elders, and scribes, all the important people, came together to have a little chat with Peter and John. After all, Peter had just blamed them for killing Jesus.
In regards to the healing of the man who couldn’t walk, the important people asked this question: “by what power or by what name did you do this?”
I’m not sure what they were expecting to hear, but Peter wasn’t about to hold back.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter said to them:
“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 and 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 in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Peter didn’t just stop at “uh, it wasn’t us, it was Jesus?”
Peter proclaimed. And I assume it was with a little fire and a little angst.
A good deed had been done indeed. But it wasn’t by their power. It was by the power that these rulers and authorities and important people tried to stop. It was by the fire they tried to extinguish but couldn’t. Not only could they not stop it, but now they were to rely on him, for there is no other name by with they can be saved.
Pretty bold move from Peter, right? This coming from the guy who backed into the crowds when extraordinary was killed on a cross. This coming from the guy who went back to being a fisherman because he had failed and doubted and messed up.
This certainly could have ended poorly for these guys, but they knew that. They weren’t worried about that anymore. And the important people noticed.
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John, and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished. And they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
They were unschooled, ordinary men. They weren’t leaders and scribes. They didn’t grow up studying in the synagogues. They were ordinary people. But we know full well that God uses the ordinary and makes it what? Extraordinary.
They had been with Jesus. The rulers didn’t come to that conclusion because they had records of where John and Peter had been. They didn’t hire a private investigator to track their movements and interactions. But they knew. They knew that these men had been with Jesus.
Here’s something really cool, so track with me on this. When Adam and Eve were created and living in the Garden of Eden, they were with God, perfectly and intentionally. Sin came in, and messed that up, causing Adam and Eve to have their sin exposed and removing them from the garden. Separation happened. But God didn’t stop there in his pursuit. His plan to restore was and has always been at work. God called Moses to free his people, and he made a promise to Moses: “I will be with you and your mouth, and will teach you what to do.” God was with Moses. God was with the prophets in their trials. He was with Hosea as he pursued a wife who chased the world. God was with Ruth as she was faithful to her mother Naomi when they had lost everything. God made it CLEAR he was with us with the birth of Jesus. “They shall call him Emmanuel, which means God is with us.” Even at the end of Jesus’ time on earth, he spoke these words: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus is with us always. That’s not just a pretty picture and a warm fuzzy feeling. That’s a promise. He is with us always. Not he was with us, or he will be with us; it’s a present promise. He is with us always, to the very end of the age.
Peter and John finally got that. They understood that. They believed it, trusted it, and left everything else as trivial pursuits. And because of that, these elders and rulers and important people SAW JESUS. They saw his power and his love and is reach in Peter and John.
We’ve had quite a year together. We started off with a killer kick-off party, with new and old faces, but faces that became familiar and became family. We started through the 5 foundations; fellowship, discipleship, worship, service, and evangelism. We lived those out; we started a service crew, and you guys hit the streets and neighborhoods and showed people you cared. You cleaned gutters and weeded gardens, and raked SO MANY LEAVES. You moved furniture and listened to stories did it without a complaint but with so much joy. We studied through the life of Moses, and how God was with him through all that crazy stuff in Egypt. 50 of us went to Kansas City and served at My Fathers House. You fixed furniture, packaged gifts, loaded trucks, and helped families start over with their lives. You served joyfully and selflessly. We studied through Ephesians, that God chose us and pursues us. He gives us the tools we need to take on the world, and he protects us through it. You guys cooked and served Wednesday night dinners to the church families here, all while you took on a HUGE task of Student Life Series. You sought the Lord and studied the scriptures, put together lessons, and stood in front of your friends and explained to them what Jesus has taught you. You woke up before the sun and served Easter breakfast to hundreds of people. You smiled and danced and shook hands and exemplified joy. And then in just a few months, we’ll be heading to the Adirondack Mountains, where we’ll just have the greatest time.
Here’s the thing, friends. This year, when people have looked out their windows at a bunch of teenage boys raking their yard, when they walked through the line to get pancakes and sausage, when they see 20 kids show up to a Sunday service together, when they read about you teaching the Bible and they see your dedication to this, they see boldness. They see devotion. They see courage. And when they see your courage, they are astonished.
And I PROMISE you—they take note that you have been with Jesus.
When they saw the courage of the EDGE students, are realized they were ordinary high school students, they were astonished. And they took note that THESE STUDENTS HAVE BEEN WITH JESUS.
That’s what this is all about. That’s what it will always be about. Let them see our love and our gentleness. Let them see our boldness and courage. And let them take note that you have been with Jesus. He’s been with us from the beginning, and he promises to be with us to the very end of the age. And it’s’ just the greatest promise to get to be a part of.