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 Jesus� 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).

�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.�

1. Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

The Apostles were just ordinary guys from the world�s 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 Peter�s first letter, and at the end it says this, �with 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).� Perhaps Silas wrote the letter because Peter didn�t 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 �full of the Spirit and wisdom (6:3).� 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 couldn�t 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, �they took note that they (Peter and John) had been with Jesus.� 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 God�s 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 didn�t recognize was that Jesus is alive, and God�s 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, �I 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.� 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, God�s Spirit to be with them and in them.

Unlike the disciples, Jesus doesn�t ask most of us to leave our families, our jobs, our home town to follow him because we can be �with him� at all times. He is alive, and his Spirit is available to all those who have faith in him. We can be with Jesus whenever we desire. The question for us is, do people recognize that we have been with Jesus because there is something different, perhaps even extraordinary, about us? No, I�m not referring to our ability to do miraculous things, like heal people. That may not be your gift. Peter and John had that gift, but the rest of the disciples did not. We are all given different extraordinary, supernatural gifts by the Spirit for us to use, some are listed in 1 Cor. 12, healing being one of them. Perhaps we have a gift that when we use it, people will see it as extraordinary. I�m not going to focus on specific gifting of the Spirit.

But there is at least one gift the Bible tells us which every believer has, the extraordinary gift of love. Love is the one of the greatest miracle, because it is not natural for us to care about people we don�t know, people who are different from us, people who are our enemies or persecute us. So when we love like Jesus loves it is a miracle. People notice. Our Monday Bible study has been going through the John�s First Letter, a little five chapter letter toward the end of the Bible, and in it he reminds us that God is love, and if we are of God and have God abiding in us we must love one another, love is a natural byproduct of God. If we do not love each other, we are not of God, and he does not abide in us. God has given every one of us the ability to be extraordinary when we walk with Jesus and are filled with his Spirit.

3. Through Our Weakness God�s Strength and Power are Made Known

Why would God choose ordinary people like the disciples and Stephen, and us to do extraordinary things? God chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary things so he can get the credit, and draw all people to himself. If God chose people who had all the right qualifications, then when something amazing happened they would get credit, not God. We would just pat each other on the back and say, �way to go,� rather than be amazed at what God has done, and celebrate and be thankful for his work among us. When people get the credit instead of God, unbelievers aren�t pointed back to God they are just drawn to talented, gifted people. We become American Idol watchers, amazed by the person and their abilities (and I�m not just referring to the show). When Peter and John healed the crippled man, they were quick to point out it was the resurrected Jesus who healed him and not them. They pointed to the miraculous work of God. They were just ordinary guys allowing God to work through them. Conversely a little later in Acts a man named Simon desired to be filled with the Holy Spirit so he could do amazing things and people would think he was something special. Needless to say he did not receive the Holy Spirit, but a tongue lashing from Peter.

Another Apostle, Paul, actually boasted of his weaknesses because he knew that people would see Christ�s power living through him:

NIV 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he [the Lord] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ�s power may rest on me.10 That is why, for Christ�s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

God frequently chooses the weakest and even gives us weaknesses so we might experience his power working in our life, and not mistake it for our own skills and abilities. How often do we boast of our weaknesses? Most of us don�t like weaknesses, and we avoid letting people see our weaknesses, we don�t like to talk about them. We don�t talk about our checkered past before we came to Christ because we are embarrassed about what we were like. Perhaps we still have some struggles in our lives, but we don�t talk about those either because we want people to think we�ve got it all together. We are perfect Christians. Gimme a break, we all still deal with some issues. Yet ironically when we share our weaknesses and bring them into the light it becomes an opportunity for God to display his power. I knew a man in seminary who courageously shared his struggle with pornography during a chapel service (with over 500 people), obviously this was a weakness in his life. What happened afterward was the power of God. His testimony struck a cord with several men who struggled with the same problem who contacted him after that service. Together they began a small men�s support and accountability group, and through this group these men were able to experience God�s power and be set free from the chains of pornography. Isn�t it interesting how God uses our weaknesses to display his power?

Many times we use our weaknesses as excuses not to do what God is asking us to do. How many times have we sensed God asking us to do something but we concluded that we are not qualified enough to do it. I remember arguing at length with God that I couldn�t become a pastor because I was not gifted as a public speaker. I was not qualified. Obviously I lost that argument, because God wanted to show that if he could speak through a donkey�Seriously he wanted to demonstrate what he could do through me not what I was qualified to do for him. Many people in the Bible tried that excuse too. Gideon argued with God about leading the Israelites into battle because his clan was the weakest in his tribe, and he was the least in his clan. Yet God used him along with only 300 men to defeat a trained army of 120,000. Moses argued with God about leading the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt with excuses like, I�m not an influential leader among my people, I am slow of speech and tongue (in other words, can�t speak too well). Yet God used him to confront the powerful Pharaoh of Egypt and after several miraculous plagues to lead millions of Israelites out of Egypt. The prophet Jonah argued with God about preaching repentance to his people�s enemy, the people of Nineveh, but God used him anyway, racial prejudice and all, and the whole city repented of their sin.

Let me ask you this, Are you arguing with God that you can�t do something because you are not qualified or don�t have the right skills, or abilities? I can�t be a Sunday school teacher because I have never taught, or I don�t know enough about the Bible. Or, I can�t sing in the choir or play on the praise team because I haven�t sung or played in public before. I can�t start a ministry to the needy in our community because I don�t know where to start, I don�t have what it takes. Someone taught me during my time of arguing with God (at least one of them), �God qualifies the called, he doesn�t call the qualified.� If God asks you to do something he will give you the ability to do it. Which is why God looks for humble people to use, people who are willing to allow others to see our weaknesses in order that he might demonstrate his power.

The biggest mistake we make is to underestimate what God can and will do through us if we are willing and obedient to follow him and do what he asks us to do.


Are you limiting what God wants to do through you with excuses? Let me repeat the two questions again: 1) Do people recognize that we have been with Jesus because there is something different, perhaps even extraordinary, about us? 2) Are you arguing with God that you can�t do something because you are not qualified or don�t have the right skills, or abilities?