The book of Acts gives us wonderful insights into the establishment of the church, and it contains many “firsts” in the Bible. In Acts, the church begins, it grows to include the Gentiles, and many points of doctrine and practices are established. Acts is full of verses and passages that help believers understand truths about the church and how we can be the church.
Chapter 4, verse 13 is one of those amazing verses – Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
In chapters 1 and 2 the disciples experienced Jesus ascending in the clouds, the replacement of Judas, the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter preaching his first sermon, and the first 3,000 believers being added to the church.
In chapter 3 we see Peter and John go to the temple at the hour of prayer and encounter the man lame from his mother’s womb. Though the man is begging for money, Peter and John offer what they have, Jesus, and heal him, causing a great stir in the temple. The people are amazed when they see the beggar walking and praising the Lord and come running to where he was clinging to Peter and John. Peter then preaches his second sermon as he tells the people about Jesus and explains it is the power of this same Jesus that healed the beggar. Then he reminded them the things that happened to Jesus were prophesied by God, proving Jesus was sent to bless them.
Chapter 4 opens with the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees arresting Peter and John for preaching the resurrection of the dead and throwing them in jail. The next day they are brought before some of the leaders of Israel. Listen to Peter’s response when asked about by what power and what name he has done this:
Acts 4:8-12 – Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
These are some of the finest verses in the Bible. They detail the Gospel, they make it clear that Jesus is the one who healed the beggar, they challenge unbelievers with their rejection of Christ, and they are straight-forward about the only One who can save us.
Then we come to the verse we started with, verse 13 – Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
Now that we have looked at what led up to this verse, the natural question is; what did the Jewish leaders see in Peter and John that indicated they had been with Jesus?
Thankfully, God has always been good to answer questions like this for us and this question is no exception. What did they see that caused them to recognize they had been with Jesus?
Key Characteristics of “Being With Jesus”
First, they saw Christ’s compassion. Peter and John didn’t have any money to give to the lame man, so they gave him what they did have, Jesus. God made him whole and he praised God for all to see and hear.
Acts 3:6-9 – But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
Secondly, they saw Christ’s boldness and confidence. With each message, Peter became more and more confident.
Acts 2:14 – But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words.”
Acts 3:19 – “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;”
Acts 4:10 – “Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health.”
As a matter of fact, Peter was so confident that the leaders didn’t question what he had said; all they could do was ask by what power and name he said it.
Acts 4:7 – “When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?”
Third, they saw Christ’s Spirit in them. They could tell the Holy Spirit was in them.
Acts 4:8 – Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people.”
And finally, they saw Christ’s humility in them.
Acts 3:11-12 – While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?
The religious leaders had not heard the next statement from Peter and John yet, but it is further indication that Christ’s humility directed their lives.
Acts 4:19-20 – But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
The leaders recognized Peter and John had been with Jesus because they saw similar characteristics in them that they had seen in Jesus. The same can be true of us. When people see Christ’s compassion, His confidence, His Spirit, and His humility in us, they will know that we have been with Jesus as well. I encourage each of us to be believers who want others to see that we have been with Jesus – to be the church in whom others see the compassion, the confidence, the Spirit, and the humility of Jesus.