"When they saw the courage of Peter and John, and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13)
At this point in Acts, the priests and elders of the temple had just put Peter & John in jail for proclaiming something rather extraordinary - that people could be raised from the dead in Jesus' name. And in Acts 4:13, the priests got a shock. Peter and John were fishermen who had received no formal education. They spoke with clarity and with conviction, and were not slick conmen, nor trained speech-givers. The religious leaders were surprised because who were these men?
So because of how unqualified the disciples are, the priests and elders "took note that these men had been with Jesus". How wonderful that is, because it reminds us of the following things.
1. It is not about us. It always has been and always will be about Jesus.
Without Jesus, our list of inadequacies becomes depressing, a burden, a way to look down on ourselves and pity our inability. But with Jesus, we don't need to look at ourselves - we can look to Him, and rejoice when we succeed, knowing that each success is a reminder that our Savior lives and works through us for His glory and our good. It wasn't about their abilities and skills. It was simply the fact that they knew Jesus, and spoke of His life, death and resurrection. Their power came in their message.
2. It's not just encouraging to us - it's enlightening to those around us!
How often have we been afraid or ashamed to share Christ with others, fearing that our frailties will turn them away from Jesus, that our sins and weaknesses will make the Good News look like Okay News or that Jesus will look like a fraud?
Paul gets it spot on in 2 Cor 12:9b when he says "I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me".
I don't rejoice in my weaknesses because I like being inept or bad. But I hasten to obey God's call to love when I have no love, to forgive when I don't have it in me, to take a bold step when inside i am trembling, that I might know and that others might know that Christ is alive and He lives in me. And each time that happens, I decrease, and Christ increases (John 3:30).
Our strengths are God-given but what a delight it is to see Christ work through our weaknesses. May we have the faith and humility to embrace that everyday.
A humble testimony of God's ongoing grace by Joseph Tay.