Summary: The Holy Spirit takes ordinary people and works through them to do extraordinary things.
The book of Acts is sometimes called the Acts of the Apostles, because it is a historical record of the amazing things Jesusï¿½ Apostles were able to accomplish after they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They preached the good news about Jesus, and people believed and were saved. They performed miraculous signs and wonders; people were being healed at their touch. In this particular chapter, it was the healing of a crippled man which sparked this confrontation between the religious leaders and Peter and John. In the next chapter it says people were bringing the sick into the streets with the hope that when Peter passed by his shadow would fall on them, and they would be healed (5:15). The events in Acts are so incredible, so amazing, that we need to be reminded of what the religious leaders in our passage here recognize, that these disciples were unschooled, ordinary men (v. 13).
ï¿½When 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.ï¿½
1. Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things
The Apostles were just ordinary guys from the worldï¿½s perspective, most of them working class, blue collar, hard working men. We know at least four of the twelve (including the three most prominent disciples) were fishermen. Not the most glamorous job in the world. Perhaps if they were around today they would appear with Mike Rowe on the show Dirty Jobs, I can just see Mike out there casting nets with them. The only schooling the disciples likely had was the school of hard knocks. Like so many others they learned their profession as an apprentice to their father. They learned the trade of their father who probably learned it from his father before him. The only education they picked up was in their home and in the synagogue. They never went to grade school, Bible college, or (get this) even seminary. Some of them might not have even been able to read or write. A while back I preached on Peterï¿½s first letter, and at the end it says this, ï¿½with the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast on it (1 Pet. 5:12).ï¿½ Perhaps Silas wrote the letter because Peter didnï¿½t know how to write.
Yet here are these ordinary, uneducated men, doing extraordinary things.
A couple chapters later we read about Stephen, another ordinary guy, who was chosen along with six others to administer a food program for the Christian widows. He was chosen for this task because he was ï¿½full of the Spirit and wisdom (6:3).ï¿½ Yet he too began doing wonders and miraculous signs. When the religious establishment challenged his miracle working, he began debating with them about Jesus, and the Bible says they could not stand up to his wisdom or the Spirit by which he spoke. Here were these highly trained, seminary educated men (okay rabbinical trained), some of the most knowledgeable people about the Bible in the world, who couldnï¿½t out debate Stephen regarding Jesus being the Messiah. So they just started fabricating lies against him, eventually leading to his death. What this passage reminds us is that God takes ordinary people and he does extraordinary things through them.
2. Being With Jesus Makes Ordinary People Extraordinary
How could these men do such extraordinary things? Obviously we know it was God, but the religious leaders unknowingly pointed to the source. It says, ï¿½they took note that they (Peter and John) had been with Jesus.ï¿½ They were ordinary people who did extraordinary things because they walked with Jesus, and were filled with the Holy Spirit. When Jesus asked Peter and John and their brothers to follow him, the Bible says they immediately dropped their nets and left their fishing boats. They quit their jobs, left their families, and their home town and followed Jesus (Matt. 4:20, 22). They spent the next three years with Jesus. They listened to his stories and teachings. They learned about the coming of Godï¿½s kingdom and how to live in his kingdom right now. They watched Jesus and how he ministered to people, healing them, casting out evil spirits, forgiving them of their sins. While the religious leader took note that they had been with Jesus, what they didnï¿½t recognize was that Jesus is alive, and Godï¿½s Spirit, the same Spirit which guided and empowered Jesus while he was on earth, was now with the disciples, filling them, empowering them to do what Jesus did, and more. Jesus told them this would happen. He said in John 14:12, ï¿½I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.ï¿½ A couple of verses later he talks about sending the Holy Spirit to be with them. They could do what Jesus did because he returned to the Father and would send the Spirit, Godï¿½s Spirit to be with them and in them.