Scripture – Acts 3: 13
The disciples, Peter and John, were considered ordinary men, untrained and unschooled in the perspective of the Jewish authorities of the day. Unschooled, negatively, in that those who were educated looked down on them, turned their noses up at them and even bullied them.
There’s somebody who knows what it feels like when somebody is looking down on you. Knows what it feels like to not belong, don’t exist, are not credible, and don’t matter because you do not measure up to their standards. It did no matter what you did, what you said or what you gave. You are treated as beneath them.
Peter and John had not attended the best universities, nor, sat under the accepted great scholars of the day. Nor, were they part of the popular fraternity or “stuck-up” culture. They had not been trained as the Pharisees, Sadducees, priests and Jewish religious authorities of the day. They were not tolerated or accepted in the company of the elite.
These men were fishermen, who eked out their living selling what they caught. And, in this inference of the Word, they were now teaching what they had been taught. Despite warnings, despite threats, despite being looked down upon or jailed and the result were they were clearly recognized as having been with Jesus!
What an honor it is, that no matter what an offender thinks about you, feels about you, puts in your way or treats you as beneath them – you are still recognized as having been with Jesus! You may be labeled as less than and worse than, but there’s still some evidence that you have been with Jesus.
But how could you tell that somebody had been with Jesus? What distinguished them? Was it in the way they walked or talked? Was it in the way they shouted or prayed? No, “none of the above.”
Because there are some good actors out there, both inside and outside the walls of the church! Some can say, “Praise the Lord,” and “Thank you, Jesus,” with the best of them! Wolves can come in sheep’s clothing!
The distinguishing factors that caused the disciples to be recognized as having been with Jesus was displayed in their attitudes and behaviors. After having spent quality time with Jesus, you probably did not show signs of pouting or feeling sorry for yourselves when things no longer went your way! You were probably not as gossipy, mean or hateful as you were once before!
After having spent quality time with Jesus, you probably stopped backbiting and bullying when things were happening out of your control!
Being with Jesus influenced the disciples to look for solutions rather than name, blame and critique things going on in the church! They were influenced to stop stirring up mess and instead collaborate and pray together to end the mess! They had been influenced to handle negative comments.
They saw Jesus take five fish and two loaves of bread and feed 5,000! They saw Him turn water into wine and raise a friend from the dead! They saw Jesus crucified, pronounced dead and buried in a cold, cold tomb, yet, met them in a closed-door Upper Room!
They could say, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” Get off my back – I have been with Jesus! Their thinking was changed and rearranged from old ways to new ways and the new way was believing they “could do all things through Christ which strengthened” them!
Circumstances were rough; situations tough, but it did not make them despondent, but instead influenced them to pray in Acts 4: 29 – “Lord, hear their threats and give us the boldness to preach The Word!” Don’t remove us from this situation – give us the boldness to handle the situation!
Although the disciples had been warned and threatened of loss of life, they boldly preached Jesus because they had been with Him. Being with Jesus changed their attitudes and behaviors. Willingly you will give of your time, talent, and resources for the benefit of the masses. Willingly you will sacrifice personal possessions and monies to help others in their time of need.
Willingly you support rather than divide! Why? Because you have been with Jesus!
Do you know anybody who has spent time with Jesus? You can “test the spirit by the spirit.” Somebody who shows evidence that they have been with Jesus displays a different attitude and behavior than most people around them.
They speak negative – you speak positive! They cry the blues – you cry, “The Lord will make a way, somehow!” They talk down about the work of the church – you proclaim, “There is nothing too hard for God.” My God “makes a way out of no way” and “Opens doors no man can open and closes doors no man can close!” He is the “I am that I am.”
When negative “stuff” comes around the church (and it will), you remind the negating individuals that God “was here before we got here and will be here long after we’re gone.”
“He sits high, but He looks low” and you ought not to mess with me because I have been with Jesus!
Remind them that God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, who was crucified, dead and buried, yet raised on the third day and “sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty from whence He should come to judge the quick and the dead” and, “to get His church back!”
I may be unschooled, and untrained, but don’t mess with me, I have been with Jesus! Jesus, who walked on water; Jesus who healed the sick and raised the dead! Jesus, the “Wonderful, Counselor, King of Kings, Lord of lords!” And “the Bright and Morning Star!”
The disciples had been with Jesus and despite warnings and threats they were still recognized as having been with Jesus! They had “to tell somebody of the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Jeremiah said, “It’s like fire shut-up in my bones.”
I may be ordinary; unschooled and untrained, but don’t mess with me: I have been with Jesus!
The Rev. Michael W. Eagle, Sr., is the senior pastor of Grant AME Church in Long Beach, CA.