Unschooled and ordinary. Yes. Those two words describe me. I don’t have letters behind my name. I have nothing to hang on my wall. I have nothing to prove that I’m educated. And ordinary, yes, I’m definitely that too. There is nothing about me that is unique. If I’ve done it, then so has someone else, and they probably did it better too. Sure, I have talents but not so much that I stand ahead of the rest. I’m ordinary, plain, average.
Peter and John were described as unschooled and ordinary in Acts 4:13. They were called to stand before the formidable Sanhedrin - the religious ruling body. In a ruling council, 23 leaders including the High Priest stand in a demi-circle around the defendants with other law students watching from their position on the floor. The Sanhedrin was made up entirely of the elite, privileged and educated. The contrast between the Sanhedrin to Peter and John was like a Harvard graduate to a self-educated drywaller. It was intimidating to stand before the Sanhedrin. They expected fear and cowardness.
But, this time? This time, it was different. The Sanhedrin were astonished by the courage of Peter and John. Can’t you just imagine the scene? If it were a movie, it would be a dramatic scene with close ups on their faces and audible gasps. The patronizing look on the faces of the Sanhedrin would begin to turn into a frown and then finally into the open-mouth, eyes-gawking look of astonishment. The young students would look from their leaders to the fishermen wondering who these men that are unafraid of the Sanhedrin are.
What kind of confidence is that and where does it come from? Scripture tells us that their confidence comes from spending time in the presence of Jesus. Even the Sanhedrin acknowledged this. Peter and John walked and talked with Jesus and were witness to Jesus’ ministry on earth. They believed Jesus when he said that he was going away but the Holy Spirit was going to come so that they would do even greater things than what they witnessed with Jesus. Peter and John were in the upper room when the Holy Spirit filled them with power, fulfilling what Jesus said.
Most of all, Peter and John believed Jesus, received the Holy Spirit and that made all the difference between confidence in the name of Jesus and cowering before an elite group of rulers.
I recognize myself in Acts 4:13 and I take that verse as the one that defines my life; when I lack confidence and I need reassurance, my fingers automatically find their way to the books of Acts, chapter 4. I’m reminded that I need to spend time in the presence of Jesus because that’s where my confidence comes from and it’s what makes me different.
Are others astonished by what Jesus is able to accomplish in your life, despite limitations? Do others see that the difference is Jesus?