Acts 4:13 . . . . . When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
I love this passage of Scripture so much, and in particular I love this verse.
At this point of God’s Story, Jesus’s disciples are finally beginning to operate within the Great Commission that Jesus had given them. They are healing and preaching, and also facing opposition. But nestled deep in the center of a Book full of interrogation, scary mobs, imprisonment, stoning and more, there is a moment when the opposition sees clearly. These men had been with Jesus.
To me, this verse does not just confirm facts of who and where. It wasn’t just about who they knew or where they spent their time, it was a realization of just how much influence Jesus had on the people who followed him.
This adage is true — you can learn a lot about a person by looking at who they spend their time with. And I’ve experienced first-hand how spending time with Jesus changes you. I love this verse because I desperately want people to notice the same kind of thing about me. I hope that they can tell that I have been with Jesus. I want them to say — “Oh, that explains it. She’s been with Jesus!” I want my close association and friendship with Him to be obvious by the way I talk, act, think, face obstacles, spend my time, honor my family, love my friends, and treat my neighbors.
Notice to just exactly what caught the religious leaders’ notice. It was Peter and John’s courage– their boldness and assurance, the authority by which they spoke and acted.
I want to sit on this thought for a moment. Yes, of course we are to be marked by our love. In fact Christ says that our love for each other will witness to the world that we are his disciples. Yes, love is paramount and an important thing to pray for and exhibit. But I like that here in this Acts chapter, it is their UNSHAKEABLE CONFIDENCE that is the distinguishing mark. Obviously, the way they healed and taught and drove out demons held some level of authority and power that reminded the religious leaders of Jesus.
It makes me wonder, when was the last time I thought about the confidence and boldness that comes with being a follower of Christ. And when was the last time I prayed for courage and boldness?
Because that’s what Jesus’s early disciples did. In fact, here in Acts 4, right after they waved their confidence-flag in the face of the opposition, they prayed for more of it. Peter and John gathered with the whole community of faith, and asked together for God to enable them to speak His word with great boldness. (Acts 4:29) Their confidence was already apparent to the culture around them but they still requested that God would give them more!
What happened next? After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. (4:31)
God enabled them and they followed through. And if you continue reading through the Book of Acts and the history of the early church, you will see that God continued to answer that prayer. Boldness upon boldness. All for his glory!
Did you notice the shaking that happened at that prayer meeting? Powerful prayers asking for powerful things met with powerful answers delivered from a powerful God may produce some tangible and visible signs of that power.
We see a building shaking again later in Acts 16. Paul & Silas end up in prison for their bold actions of driving away an evil spirit. Their boldness continues into the night as they pray and sing hymns to God in the ear-shot of the other prisoners. And the result was a shaken foundation, open prison doors and broken shackles.
God may cause and allow many things to be shaken around us — but not us. Once we’ve decided to follow Jesus and spend time with Him, He rubs off on us. As Son of God, he has all the authority and all the power — and we are His. We can rest in that. And we can stand confidently on that.
May it be said of us too, that we have been with Jesus.
May our unshakeable confidence be apparent to all.