“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished. . . .” (Acts 4:13). Not a very complimentary description, and in the original Greek even less so—“unschooled, ordinary” literally means “ungrammared idiots.” Luke is telling us that Peter and John had not gone to seminary, nor to an evangelism seminar or conference. No “how-to” books or DVDs had prepared them for their task. But the authorities unwittingly recognized the source of their ability: “. . . they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
When the authorities came to that conclusion, Peter and John were in the busiest part of the temple complex—the place where the once-crippled man we meet in Acts 3 was set down so he could beg from the most people. And that is where we are too: Where people are. Where we live and work and shop and go to school and relax and work out and eat. Where we might see the clerk who works in the local market, the person who sits at the desk next to ours, the one who does our hair or walks the treadmill next to ours, who plays on the same team, who repairs our appliances or tunes our cars. Peter and John were where we usually are: where the people are.
There in the temple courtyard, at the crossroads of life, they showed not only that they knew and worshiped and believed in Jesus but that they “had been with Jesus.” Something about their public and private conduct, their very conversation, demonstrated that Jesus had rubbed off on them. You could tell by the compassion they showed to the man with a disability. You could hear it in the gracious tone of their voices as they proclaimed the gospel of grace. You could tell by the courage with which they faced opposition. You could sense it in their refusal to be silenced. Jesus had rubbed off on them.
Might I suggest, as we think about and thank God for the ministry of Christian Reformed Home Missions, that we too are missionaries in the places we call home? Has Jesus rubbed off on us? If we were arrested for our testimony about Jesus, would the authorities take note that we have been with Jesus? You may be the only connection between some of the people you are with and Jesus. Will they see him, hear him, take note of him because of you?
A strange thing happened a while after I preached on this chapter and pointed out how Peter and John were characterized as “unschooled” and “ordinary.” The church council was going to hold its annual dinner and decided to roast me, their preacher. They hired an audio technician to listen to my tape-recorded sermons and take out of context some of my more outrageous paraphrasings, using them as my supposed answers to completely unrelated questions posed by an interviewer. This technician had to listen to a good number of my sermons, among them the sermon on Acts 4:13. He took note of my paraphrase about “unschooled idiots.” But more importantly, he heard me refer to the fact that you could tell Peter and John “had been with Jesus.” I still wonder if he could tell that I had been with Jesus too. That’s not a bad thing for each of us to wonder about: Can anybody tell I have been with Jesus? Is he rubbing off on me?
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