“They had been with Jesus”

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognised that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Peter and John, fishermen by trade, are hauled up before a great council in Jerusalem. Rulers, elders and scribes had gathered, along with the High Priestly family, to examine the two Apostles who had just healed a lame beggar. “By what power or by what name did you do this?”, they asked (Acts 4:7). Peter makes his response. Or rather, Peter filled with the Holy Spirit, made his response (Acts 4:8), and the council are astonished. The conclusion? “And they recognised that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Now, in one sense that’s not surprising since Peter had said to the council that healing had taken place “by the name of Jesus Christ” (4:10). There is more, though, than just this. They weren’t simply speaking in Jesus’s name, the council recognised that they had been with Jesus. There was something about their manner, their conduct, which defined them.

Yesterday we saw how, much later, the disciples were nicknamed ‘Christians’ in Antioch. Here we can see the beginnings of why this happened. Peter and John were displaying lives which were marked by Christ, which had made them bold. They may have been uneducated, common men but they had been marked by their presence with Christ. The history of the church is littered with such men and women, people whose lives have been transformed by being with Jesus. Being with Jesus in prayer, in the reading of scripture and in worship. This is the engine which drives the church.


“The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26) - Here, then, is a challenging thought: if you moved into a new village, and no-one knew you or your background, would they come to the same conclusion? Would you be more noted for being a follower of Christ, than someone who has (or had) a particular job or a distinct hobby. Would you be nicknamed “Christian” because it is clear that he is the central guide and impulse of your life?

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

In 1824, Aberdeen (which I am told is the sunniest city in Scotland) witnessed the birth of one Walter Chalmers Smith. A great figure in the church, he was famed more widely for his poetry. Unsurprisingly his love of poetry lead him to write hymns, and today’s is a meditation on the glorious nature of God. His starting point is a wise one: we must acknowledge that God is beyond our knowledge. Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes, Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

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