The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13.

The Pharisees, in this passage, are using Greek that most of us can understand, even if you don’t know Greek: agrammatos idiōtēs: illiterate idiots. The folks who translated these words from Greek to English have soften them (a lot): “ordinary” and “no special training” stand in for “illiterate idiots.” But central point remains . . . the disciples were nobodies. They had no special power, status, learning, or skill.

We can feel powerless when we see the struggles in our country or the divisions that run right down our society. We can ask, what can one believer do that will change the story?

Peter and John knew what it was like to live in a time of testing. Their nation was occupied by Rome, there were soldiers on all the walls and in all the towns. The religious leaders of the day were responsible for the arrest and murder of Jesus, their leader. Those same leaders have now thrown them in jail. Peter and John would have looked at their nation with breaking hearts, knowing this was not the situation that God dreamed of for their people.

But there’s a second part. Yes, the disciples are nobodies, agrammatos idiōtēs, but they are nobodies who have “been with Jesus.” For days and months and years the disciples have been with Jesus, learned from him, grown as followers. They became leaders and teachers, healers and speakers. They found bravery and power as Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, moved in them. They began to help the story change for others: the beggar who was healed, the thousands who came to faith.

George McDonald talks about staying close to Jesus, as the disciples did, in our own lives:
Get up, and do something the master tells you; so make yourself his disciple at once. Instead of asking yourself whether you believe or not, ask yourself whether you have this day done one thing because he said, Do it, or once abstained because he said, Do not do it. It is simply absurd to say you believe, or even want to believe in him, if you do not anything he tells you. If you can think of nothing he ever said as having had an atom of influence on your doing or not doing, you have too good ground to consider yourself no disciple of his.

Stay close to Jesus. And then, to do at least one thing, or abstain from one thing, every day, because Jesus is asking us to. It will change our homes, our church, and yes, even our nation.

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