“They Had Been with Jesus”

Categories: Bulletin Articles, M. W. Bassford

Acts 4:5-13 recounts a fascinating series of events.  The Sanhedrin summons Peter and John, a couple of uneducated Galilean fishermen, and demands that they give an account of themselves.  However, rather than trembling before the majesty of the high court, Peter delivers one of the most impressive counterpunches in the Bible.  He points out that a) he and John are being treated as criminals for the “crime” of healing a lame man, b) and they healed him by the authority of Jesus Christ, c) whom this same Sanhedrin had crucified. 

Ouch.  In about three sentences, the Jewish leaders go from being in control of the situation to looking like villains and fools.  They reached out to poke the bunny and drew back a bloody stump. 

V. 13 offers a fascinating insight into their reaction.  They are first of all appalled at Peter and John’s boldness.  Then, they recognize both of them as having been with Jesus. 

It’s possible that this recognition was based on purely physical characteristics.  More likely, though, the leaders recognized them because they acted like Jesus.  They had learned from Him to speak with wisdom and confidence that the enemies of the gospel could not refute.  Only the Master could have taught them that!

Today, do the people we talk to recognize that we have been with Jesus?  The difference between us and worldly people should be conspicuous.  We live in a time when people are corrupt, contentious, selfish, hateful, and foul-mouthed.  Someone who has sat at the feet of the Teacher will be none of those things.  The disciple of Jesus is holy, peacemaking, selfless, loving, and gracious in speech.  If we have been with Jesus, when we walk away from the checkout line at Wal-Mart, the cashier will be smiling.

Does our online presence make it obvious that we have been with Jesus?  Heaven knows that all the worst characteristics of human speech are distilled by social media!  Sadly, I know far too many Christians who are gracious and kind in person but rancorous and contemptuous on Facebook.  If we have been with Jesus, we will recognize the temptation that these platforms offer and govern our speech accordingly.  Rather than fanning the flames of controversy, we will give a blessing, even to others thousands of miles away.

Finally, does our boldness in the proclamation of the gospel show that we have been with Jesus?  Often, we don’t take the opportunities that are before us because we are afraid.  Peter and John were literally on trial.  They had every reason to be afraid, but they had been with Jesus.  His spirit in their hearts drove away fear and emboldened them to tell the truth that needed to be heard. 

We ought to be all these things, but if we aren’t, the solution is obvious.  Be with Jesus!  Spend time learning about His will, both in and outside of the assembly.  Seek Him in prayer.  The more we are with Him, the more evident He will become in every aspect of our lives.