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Let’s ask for the Lord’s help. O Lord, grant now that we may hear Your Word, know Your will, and walk in Your way. Give us light where we have darkness, hope where we have none, rid us of the confusion, the apathy, the stubborn sin that would choke out the fruitfulness of Your Word. Make us humble, make this preacher humble. Make us teachable and eager to change and eager to stand. We pray in Jesus. Amen.
During the last world war, as the German armies rolled over most of Europe, crushing countries in their path, Adolf Hitler sent into operation a plan to exterminate all Jews. Many of the people of Holland responded by doing their utmost to help Dutch Jews escape this peril. “My own family,” and I’m reading from Corrie the ten Boom, some of you will recognize, “My own family and my friends and I did all that we could do to save Jewish lives until we were betrayed and arrested. At that time, my father was 84 years of age and friends had often warned him that if he persisted in hiding Jews in his home under the very eye of the occupying armies, he could surely face imprisonment. ‘I am too old for the prison life,’ my father replied, ‘but if that should happen, then it would be for me an honor to give my life for God’s ancient people, the Jews.’ I recall with great clarity the day, February 28, 1944 that we went down the winding staircase with our whole family and friends. Father leaned heavily on my arm and passing the large Friesian clock in the hall, he suggested that I pull up the weights to wind it. He could not realize that the next day when the clock unwound there would be no one, only silence, in that so recently crowded, lively, joyful house, and that never again as a family would we enter father’s beloved house with its many clocks. Thirty-five of our family and friend were led through the Smedstraat toward the police station that day… That night, God used Father to prepare each of us in a special way for the unknown times that lay ahead. Father asked my brother Willem to read Psalm 91…’He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…’ After an hour’s ride from there, the van door opened and the gates of the prison closed behind us. We were ordered to stand with our faces pressed against the red brick wall. When our names were called, I passed by Father, who was sitting on a chair. He looked up, and we heard him softly saying, ‘The Lord be with you, my daughters.’ From that moment forward, everything in our lives was changed. We did not know what was ahead of us, but I was certain of one thing: That Jesus would never leave us or forsake us and that, for a child of God, no pit could be so deep that Jesus was not deeper still.”
I want to talk to you this morning about bravery. It’s not something that we often hear about as Christians. If we were to think about the virtues of a godly Christian life, we might list purity, faith, love, self-control, the various fruit of the Spirit, and we’d be right to do so, but how many of us would think to mention bravery?
Have you seen the movie from several years ago, the Pixar move Brave? It’s quite good. Scottish accents, mischievous children, excitement, there’s fighting bears and warring clans and witches and spooky forests, and I think that on a deeper level, though on one level it’s a story of adventure, hence the title Brave, but I think there’s a deep level in that movie. Not only are you brave enough to face your fears and go out into a spooky forest and fight off bears, but are you brave enough to change? Brave enough to be humbled? Brave enough to admit when you’re wrong? Brave enough to say you’re sorry?
We love stories where people overcome their fears. And many of us have read, this was actually from Corrie ten Boom’s Prison Letters, many will have read The Hiding Place and know the story well of the remarkable ways in which God sustained her faith and that of her sister and gave them surely from the Spirit, a supernatural kind of bravery. We love stories where people do the right thing, where people don’t compromise. Don’t you love those movies where the little guy stands up, where they are willing to do the hard thing, no matter the cost? Don’t you want to be brave? Don’t you in some quiet moment on some sleepless night have some dream of doing the right thing when everyone else is doing the wrong thing of being willing to stand up and be counted for Christ? To conquer your fears and be brave.
Jesus was brave. The apostles, at least here on this occasion, were brave. And we have something to learn from their courage and their boldness.
Acts, chapter 4, follow along as I read verses 13 through 22: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, ‘What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.’ So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.’ And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.”
Peter and John were brave. Not with swords or guns or punches. They had only one weapon at their disposal, and it’s the same weapon that almost all of us have at our disposal—they had words. Words. And with those words they were brave. And they were brave precisely because in the face of opposition they were bold. Verse 13 says the members of the council were astonished with their boldness.
Now we are just going through different segments in the book of Acts to go through different episodes in 12 or 13 weeks and so we’ve skipped over the beginning of chapter 4 where there is a miraculous healing in chapter 3 and then Peter and John are hauled before the council in chapter 4 and threatened and they will be beaten, and yet they give the good confession and declare that yes, they have spoken in the only name given among men whereby we must be saved, the name of Jesus. That’s what Peter said.
Verse 8: “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this has been healed, let it be known to you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, this man has been healed.”
He didn’t mince words. He didn’t sugarcoat it. He looked them right in the eye and he said, “You want to know? You’re daring me? You want to know how this man was healed? I’ll say it again. I’ll say His name. Jesus. There. I said it. Jesus.” “Stop it!”
It’s like the scene in Princess Bride. “Humperdinck, Humperdinck, Humperdinck. [laughter] Stop with that name.”
Jesus. They were amazed that they spoke so freely, so forthrightly.
And then you read verse 13, the other aspect of their amazement is that Peter and John, we read here, were uneducated common men.
It was Abraham Lincoln who said “The Lord must like common men that He made so many of them.”
Yes, they were uneducated, they were common. This was a precise Jewish phrase with a specific meaning. Uneducated meant they had not been formally trained in the Torah; they would have learned it as Jewish boys, but they had not had some formal training at the feet of some famous rabbi. And they were common men, that is, they were, they were laymen. They were not priests, they were not Levites, they were not a part of some ruling priestly class.
So these people were not elders, pastors. They had not been to seminary. Regular Jews. Not scribes, not priests, not experts. They’re not authorities, and yet they speak with authority. Peter and John are nobodies. They don’t have some Ph.D. in ancient Hebrew or in the Torah. They’re not in charge of a congregation. They’re not prophets or priests. And yet they speak the word with great boldness. Uneducated, common men.
Friends, do not underestimate what you can do to speak for Christ. You think, “Well, somebody might ask me a question that I don’t know the answer to.” Yes, that may happen, and you can always say “I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer to that,” or “I’d be happy to, to look it up,” or “You know what? That’s a great question. How about you and I read the Bible together and we’ll both find out.” Oh, that would be tricky.
Listen, so many of you have been to hundreds, thousands of sermons. You’ve been to Sunday school, you’ve been to small groups. Some of you have been to Christian schools, or Christian colleges. Even if you’ve just been around the church for a couple of years, you know more than you think you know. Don’t be afraid to say it.
When I say something about Jesus, people figure that’s what I have to say. You’re a pastor. See, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you’re on the plane and they say “What do you do?” and you say you’re a pastor, and then they, they think “oh, I can tell you my problems” or “I can tell you my conspiracy theories about Jesus.” Or sometimes they talk about church in a very wonderful conversation. Other times you say “pastor” and it’s, they just know, good, headphones on. [laughter]
Or what often happens, if I meet people and they find out I’m a pastor, then they say “oh, sorry,” ’cause they were just, you know, swearing three minutes ago. [laughter] I say don’t apologize to me, you take it up with the Lord.
But when you say something, that’s not your job, that’s not your profession.
David Dickson tells the story of an old layman, not a pastor, named Robert Flockhart who preached on a street corner in Edinburgh for 40 years in the 19th century, and one night a scoffer came up and said quite indignantly, “Men like that do more harm than any ministers, for no one can say he is being paid for his preaching.”
Don’t underestimate what you know, what good you can do, with your words. They were common, uneducated men. God uses young people, old people, men, women, educate, uneducated, rich, poor. He furthers the reach of His kingdom with all sorts of people. When we are bold.
Eleven times in Acts we have the word “boldness” or “boldly.” Look later in chapter 4, you see it in verse 9: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak to Your Word with all boldness.”
Verse 31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the Word of God with boldness.”
This, you remember, is after they come back from their release and they report to the people what had happened to them and the warning that they had been given. And as I’ve said before, this is not, I’m ashamed to say, not what I would think to do. If I returned and I gave a report to the church and said “let’s gather together and pray, we were just threatened, we were beat up, let’s pray together.” “Okay, what shall we pray for?” “Well, first, we’re going to pray for religious liberty,” and that’s a good thing and we should pray for that, but that’s not the first thing they prayed for. “You know what we should pray for? We should pray for the conversion of all these people who are persecuting us.” Well, that’s a good thing to pray for; that wasn’t the first. “We should pray that these threats would go away.” Well, that might be a good thing, but not what they prayed for. They prayed for boldness.
We don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know if, what will change, if anything will change, we don’t know if it will get better or it will get worse. Here’s what we’re going to pray, church: We’re going to pray that we would be bold.
What is boldness? How do you know if you are bold and brave? It’s the same as being rude. You don’t have to go looking for trouble. We don’t have a record of the apostles interrupting people, making a nuisance of themselves so they could go back and say “we were persecuted for the cause.” No, they’re not rude. It’s not merely a personality type, very loud, obnoxious, sort of well-suited for Americans. No. It’s not for extroverts or a personality type, or a nationality.
We read earlier in verse 8 Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them ‘Rulers of the people and the elders,” he’s speaking very respectfully. No, boldness is not the same as belligerence, bravery is not the same as bravado.
So what is it? What is boldness? Boldness entails two things: Being clear in the face of fear, and second, following Christ no matter the cost. That’s, that’s my definition, and I think we’re, we can get it from this text. That’s my definition of boldness. To be clear in the face of fear. When everything around you and in you is saying just equivocate, hide it, nuance it, and yet you’re clear in the face of fear—that’s boldness. And to follow Christ, no matter the cost.
First, then, see how the apostles were clear in the face of fear. They’re hauled before the council. Think of everything that Peter and John had to fear. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Yeah, FDR, and like a thousand other things to fear. Embarrassment and ridicule, they might have feared that. Disappointing and upsetting the very people they look up to. It’s like being hauled before, you know, the Presbytery or the seminary professors, or your pastoral staff, the council here. Disapproval by their Jewish countrymen? Fear rejection by or removed from the Jewish faith and the synagogue? Fear that they might in bearing witness to this Christ end up angering the Roman magistrates? They might face further imprisonment, bodily punishment, or perhaps worst of all, the hardship would not fall upon them, but upon their family, their friends, their children. Maybe they would be killed. Maybe they would go after the people that they loved. They had a lot to fear, and when the risks are that high, the temptation is to play it safe.
Maybe you just flat out lie. “Now, how was this man healed?” “Um, I don’t know. I wasn’t there.”
Remember Peter? This is the same Peter who just weeks ago is quivering before a servant girl. “Your accent gives you away. You were with him.” “I don’t the man,” he said, and now filled with the Holy Spirit, having seen and been with the resurrected Christ, he is changed.
Look again at verse 9: “If we’re examined for this good deed, how he was healed, let it be known by the name of Jesus Christ.” Now he said the name. Now listen to what he says: “Whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by Him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus,” he’ll say it again, “Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And,” just to make myself absolutely clear, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
I’d say that was pretty bold.
I mean, they, they had all the pressure to find another speech. Save yourself. Maybe find a way to sort of appease your conscience but not upset the crowd. Maybe live to see another day. Don’t mention Jesus by name, perhaps. “We want to know how this man was healed.” “Well, you know.” “Well, what’s his name?” “You already know it.”
Maybe, maybe you mention Jesus, but you don’t have to mention the part “whom you crucified.”
And then you go to Psalm 118, yes, the stone the builders rejected, you rejected Him. And then, then you have to add verse 12, “and there’s no other name. You want to talk about names? I’ll say His name, I’ll say it again. There’s no other name.” I mean, couldn’t have just spoken some generalities, maybe used language that both sides can agree on, while meaning some different things?
It said that that the Council of Nicea people were trying to, to form some sort of compromise statement about the deity of Christ, was He of the same essence with the Father or just of a similar essence with the Father? And there was, as there often is, there was a middle party that was saying “well, can’t we find language that we can all agree on? Can’t we say that He’s the Son of God? Can’t we say He’s the Son of Man? Can’t we say that He and the Father share many things?” Well, yes, they could have come up with a compromise statement, but it would not have in that instance been a faithful statement. It would have been saying the same things but meaning something entirely different.
Faced with all of their fears, Peter and John say “We’ll tell you. In the face of fear, we will be absolutely clear.” They do what so many of us don’t do with a difficult question—they answer it.
I was reading this week about a British communication expert, Peter Bull. You’ll see in a moment why that may be a good name. Studied the habits of British politicians for decades, and identified 35 different techniques that politicians use to evade questions. I’m sure it just happens in Britain, not here. [laughter] You ignore the question, you acknowledge the question but you don’t answer it, you question the question, you attack the questioner, you attack the interviewer, you refuse to answer, you given an incomplete answer, you interrupt your own answer, you repeat your previous answer, you imply the question was already been answered, and on and on… 35 different ways to take a question that you don’t like and not really answer it.
But they didn’t do any of that. They spoke with candor, with conviction.
Now, listen, this is not to say that we have to tell everyone everything about everything we believe every time we see them. Hey, you have a question? Let me dump a systematic theology on you. That can information overload. Sometimes it is the better part of wisdom to say, “You know what? That’s a great question. And we’re going to get to that, but I want to talk to you about something else. You want to ask me ‘is so and so in Hell?’ That’s not the question to talk about right now.”
So boldness does not mean you have to fall for everyone’s trap. We know this with Jesus. He often returned questions with questions. Being bold doesn’t mean anyone can put you on the spot and you have to answer their question no matter what. “What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Okay? Go.” Pastor said be bold. “What’s the least attractive thing about your husband? Be honest.” Now, if you have a ready-made list for that, then you can talk to Bob Goudzwaard in counseling sometime. [laughter]
Boldness does not mean we share everything about everything when anyone asks, but boldness means that when the truth is on the line, we do not throw God under the bus. We do not vacillate. We do not equivocate.
I think of 2 Corinthians: “We have renounced disgraceful underhanded ways and by an open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”
That’s what I take to be the model for preaching.
Now, some sermons are deductive, some are inductive, some come at you right away and here’s our three points, some maybe come and they, they drop the conclusion in your lap at the end, so there’s lots of different ways to communicate. But Paul says “I am speaking straight at you. I am not trying to fool you. I’m not trying to be clever. I’m not hoping that you walk away from my teaching and you say ‘that was really fascinating, what did it all mean?'” By an open statement of the truth.
Now, compare what Peter and John do to the clandestine conversations of the council. “When they had commanded them,” verse 15, “to leave the council, they conferred with one another.” So they’re all huddling up. They were very bold, Peter and John, and now the council, though they sit in the spot of authority, they huddle up and begin to whisper to one another, well, we really want to punish them further, but everyone can see that a miracle has happened, and then the crowds might turn on us. We can’t flog two men for healing a, a cripple. That can’t work. But, boy, we can’t stand to hear the name of Jesus. We can’t let that go.” So they decide, rather sheepishly, “you can leave, but stop it.” That’s not boldness. That’s cold, cowardly calculation.
Boldness does not mean we cannot be shrewd or prudent. But it means that you and I realize there are more important things in life than your life. There are more important things in my life than my life. If we could get that simple but Spirit-prompted resolution deep into our heart, it would change everything. There are more important things in your life than your life. It means that you don’t hide that you’re a Christian. You’re not ashamed to pray. You’re not embarrassed for your friends at school or your colleagues at work to know that Jesus is absolutely the most important person in your life and your only comfort in life and death. Not just you go to church – that has a certain level of social acceptability, but that you love and worship Jesus Christ.
It means you tell others about Jesus, even when you’re afraid of looking silly. Or they’ll ask questions you can’t answer. Or it might ruin your street cred, or your likeability at the office, or your chance for being promoted at work. Of course, we must be wise as serpents, and that may mean keeping our mouths shut at some times.
But put it this way – if you were to pass away tomorrow, and all of your neighbors and friends and colleagues from work were to come to the funeral, and someone from your church who knew you very, very intimately stood up to give your eulogy and talked about how important your faith was and how Jesus Christ meant everything to you, would that come as a surprise to everyone there attending your funeral? “I never knew. I knew that she went to church, and talked about that… I had no idea how important Jesus was to her.”
God calls us to be winsome witnesses for Christ, and to speak of him clearly, even, and especially, in the face of fear. And all you have to do is have your eyes and ears open and pay attention to the world around us, and let’s not kid ourselves that it’s some, you know, jack-booted persecution falling on the Church, but it could happen. But there certainly is a noticeable cultural pressure, keep your Christianity private, keep it to yourself, keep it acceptable, keep it in certain bounds, just make it some sort of feel-good pablum, be a better person, try to be moral, power of positive thinking… No one’s scandalized by that sort of Gospel because it’s not a real Gospel. Believe the real Gospel, read the real Word, follow the real Jesus… People will object and you will have moments of fear. And in those moments, will you speak clearly? Or will you save face?
Praise God, Peter and John were bold, and they spoke clearly in the face of fear.
And then second, they followed Christ no matter the cost.
Peter and John are given a command by the governing authorities and they refuse to obey that command. It is from the highest judicatory in Judea, the Sanhedrin, and still they refused to obey it. Verse 19: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God you must judge. For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
We believe in Romans 13. We believe that God has appointed the magistrate to be a governing authorities, and so we give our obedience. But it is not an absolute obedience. If ever it comes to the place where the ruling authorities, whether it be in your workplace, your school, local, state, federal, should command what the Lord forbids or should forbid what the Lord commands, then the choice, however painful, should not be a difficult one.
Well, you decide for yourself if we should obey men or obey God, but for us, it’s simple. We obey God.
This was an order that could not be obeyed because it contradicted the will of God. They were called to speak of Christ, to bear witness to Christ. He had appointed them, anointed them, with the Spirit to be His witnesses. Woe be to them if they stopped proclaiming the name of Jesus because some scribes and priests and Sadducees wanted them to be quiet. They might have sort of rationalized to themselves, “well, let’s just keep a low profile here.”
Now, I’m not trying to cast aspersions on those who are in difficult mission situations and have to be very wise with how they speak. It isn’t to say that the right thing is to be dropped into some closed country and just, you know, stand on a street corner that says “believe in Jesus or go to hell” and all of the missionaries get kicked out the next day. That’s not wise.
But if you never speak of Jesus, if you never tell anyone the real reason that you’re there, if you never move forward with the whole purpose of your being in that country, then it’s cowardice. And so it is for us.
Peter and John spoke. I imagine they thought to themselves, “we would rather be judged in the court of men than judged in the court of heaven.” That’s what it comes down to.
Where do you want to be judged? You can be judged on Twitter easily. Cancel Culture, say the wrong word, have something in your past… You’re gone. I’d rather be judged on Twitter. I’d rather be judged by a human court than to be judged by God in heaven.
Scripture tells us to obey the governing authorities, but there is a limit to our obedience. Obedience to your elders is not absolute. Obedience to your parents is not absolute. Obedience to the government is not absolute. The only One who commands absolute obedience is the One who only commands what is always right, and that is God and God alone.
So, yes, we want to be good citizens. We want to obey the governing authorities wherever possible. Even if we may think it’s unwise or unhelpful or uncalled for. But it is never right in the sight of God to obey men and women when they ask us to disobey God.
Just like Corrie ten Boom and her family hid the Jews rather than give them up for extermination. And we will face tests that are much less severe, but also difficult in our day.
I was talking recently with a Christian man who’s a licensed counselor. And years ago he was very much in the gay lifestyle. He was practicing, was all out, all into it, and he has since come out of that. He’s married. Still would profess to struggle with those particular sinful desires, but change has happened. And after many years he is beginning to tell his story now more publicly, getting some notice for it. And he told me, with a sort of matter-of-fact resignation, “I’m sure I will lose my license. I’m sure it’s a matter of time before the State will take away my license when they find out who I am and what I’m saying.”
That’s not to suggest that that’s the only way to do things, or that everyone who’s faithful will lose their license. Some of you practice and are licensed by the State and you have to find ways, according to God’s Word and your own conscience, to do these things. The illustration is simply to point out that there may come a time, sooner than we realize for many of us, where we will face a choice between faithfulness to God and faithfulness to the world.
Bravery is marked by boldness, and boldness means we are clear in the face of fear and that we follow Christ no matter the cost. What we’re really talking about is that old-fashioned virtue: Courage. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! C-c-c-courage. [laughter] The cowardly lion said.
It may be that there are some scarecrows that need a brain, perhaps there are some tin men among us who need a heart, but I dare to say that most of us are more like the cowardly lion, and we need some courage.
It’s not just for missionaries in a jungle somewhere. It’s not just for pastors preaching behind a very large pulpit on Sunday. Every Christian is called to be courageous.
Have you ever noticed this list in Revelation 21:8? It’s a list of those who will face the second death in the lake of fire. And the list includes murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, liars, and do you know the very first type of person listed? The cowardly.
Now, let me be clear. Are you going to hell for chickening out sharing your faith on the bus when somebody asks you who is Jesus and you said “I don’t know – this is my stop.” No. But. Can you go to hell if you compromise with the world and lack the courage to claim Christ, obey Christ, when the whole world tells you to reject Christ? Yes, you can go to hell for that.
And when Revelation 21 mentions first of all the cowardly in the lake of fire, it is thinking of those who succumbed to the pressure. Remember what each of the letters in Revelation say? To him who, what? Overcomes. Overcomes. Overcomes the pressure, overcomes the temptation, overcomes all of the world squeezing us into its mold. Such pressure to come up with a respectable Christianity, with a faith that does not cost us anything, and maybe even gains us a few clients and some social standing. The cowardly in Revelation were those who did not overcome, those in the visible community of faith who turned their backs and refused to fight. They were the ones who would succumb to the threat of persecution, not remain loyal to Christ and His commandments.
Luke chapter 9: “If anyone would come after me,” Jesus says, “let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me, for whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it, for what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses, or forfeits, his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of His holy angels.”
What do you want Christ to say of you when you stand before Him in glory? I sure want Him to say “I am not ashamed of that man because he was not ashamed of Me.”
And I tremble to think that Christ would look and say “why should I open my arms to you when you kept Me always at arm’s length?”
How, then, do we grow in this courage, in this bravery, in this boldness? Perhaps you leave here and you say “oh, Pastor, good sermon, I want to be bold and brave and courageous,” but if it’s only an act of the will, it will probably last hours, days, weeks at most.
Where does this boldness come from? Well, we already saw one place where it comes from. It comes from prayer. Later in verse 29: “Now, Lord,” they’re praying, “look upon their threats. Grant to your servants to continue to speak Your Word with all boldness.” They didn’t say “look upon their threats and remove them,” they said “look upon their threats and don’t remove us. Don’t let us be afraid.”
Would that that were our prayer. O God, make me brave, make me bold, help me be clear in the face of fear. Help me follow Christ no matter the cost.
So we’ve seen that prayer.
But there’s one other secret. It’s not a secret – it’s an open secret. It’s right there in the first verse we read, verse 13: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated common men, they were astonished, and they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
You and I will never be bold, we will never be brave, we will never be courageous, unless we spend time with Jesus.
The council recognized they had been with this Jesus. Now, they may have thought “hmm, did we see you once before?” But it’s more than that. Given everything else in this verse, it’s more than just a mental recognition “I think your face looks familiar.” Luke means for us to understand that the council knew they had been taught by Jesus. Didn’t Jesus claim to be the only way? Didn’t Jesus use Psalm 118 to rebuke His enemies? Didn’t Jesus speak with unusual authority? So make no mistake – when they quote Psalm 118, when they say Jesus is the only way, when they dare to speak with authority, they say these are Jesus’ men. The servant is like unto the Master.
It’s only when we spend time with Jesus in prayer, in His Word, that we will be able to speak of Him clearly, proclaim Him loudly, be willing to let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.
The more time you spend in sports, don’t you get bolder with your opinions? You’ve read it all, you’ve listened to it all, you know exactly and you’re ready to pontificate on the latest sports manufactured controversy. The more time you spend in politics, the bolder you get with your convictions. You’ve watched it on TV, you’ve listened to the talk radio, you’ve read all the articles online, and you’re strong with your convictions because you spend time with it. The more you spend time in music, the more you spend time in your field… It’s, it’s this way with any area. You’re in it, you live it, you breathe it… You’re read to be bold.
And so it is with Jesus. The more time you spend with Jesus, the bolder you will be to make Him known.
And remember again, we are not trying to sell ice cubes to Eskimos.
Verse 20 puts it very simply: We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.
Not world’s greatest salesman, not trying to close the deal. We’ve seen it. We’ve heard it. We know Him. We’ve been changed by Him. We’ve met Him. How can we not say something?
Talking about the Jesus you know, bearing witness to the Jesus you love.
We will never be bold, we will never be brave, until we spend time with Jesus, and people recognize there is something, there’s something about you. You’re not just a Christian in Charlotte. That’s not unusual. You’re not just a churchgoer – lots of people can claim that. No, no. There’s something really different about you. It’s who you’re like, it’s who you’re with, it’s what you’re about. There’s some Jesus quality to you. And when we’re with Him, we may just dare to speak of Him.
Let’s pray. Our gracious heavenly Father, You know that I need this sermon as much as anyone. We need You every hour. We are so prone to wander, we are so apt to chicken out. Just like Peter with a servant girl in the middle of the night, we’ll come up with an excuse, we’ll close the book, we’ll find some socially acceptable way and we’ll leave You behind. Make us bold. Make us brave. We pray in Jesus. Amen.