Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled…
I. WHAT A BELIEVER SHOULD BE — a striking likeness of Christ. You have read lives of Christ beautifully and eloquently written, but the best life of Christ is His living biography, written out in the words and actions of His people. A Christian should imitate Christ in —
1. His boldness. This is a virtue nowadays called impudence, but the grace is equally valuable by whatever name it may be called. Christ dealt out honest truth; He never knew the fear of man; He stood out God's chosen, careless of man's esteem. Be like Christ in this. Have none of the time-serving religion of the present day, which only flourishes in a hot-bed atmosphere, a religion which is only to be perceived in good company. No; if ye are the servants of God, be like Jesus Christ; never blush to own your religion; your profession will never disgrace you — take care you never disgrace that.
2. His loveliness. The one virtue of boldness will never make you like Christ. There have been some who, by carrying their courage to excess, have been caricatures of Christ and not portraits. Let courage be the brass; let love be the gold. Let us mix the two together, so shall we produce a rich Corinthian metal, fit to be manufactured into the beautiful gate of the temple. The man who is bold may accomplish wonders. John Knox did much, but he might have done more if he had had a little love. Luther was a conqueror — still, if while "he had the fortiter in re he had been also suaviter in mode, he might have done even more good than he did. So, while we too are bold, let us ever imitate the loving Jesus.
3. His humility. In England a sovereign will not speak to a shilling, and a shilling will not notice a sixpence, and a sixpence will sneer at a:penny. But it should not be so with Christians. We ought to forget caste, degree, and rank, when we come into Christ's church. Recollect, Christian, who your Master was — a man of the poor.
4. His holiness.
II. WHEN SHOULD CHRISTIANS BE THIS? For there is an idea in the world that persons ought to be very religious on a Sunday, but that it does not matter what they are on a Monday. Is there a time when the warrior may unbuckle his armour, and become like other men? No; at all times and in every place let the Christian be what he professes to be. I remember talking with a person who said, "I do not like visitors who come to my house and introduce religion; I think we ought to have religion when we go to the house of God, but not in the drawing-room." I suggested that there would be a great deal of work for the upholsterers in that case. "How is that?" was the question. "Why," I replied, "we should need to have beds fitted up in all our places of worship, for surely we need religion to die with, and consequently every one would want to die there." Aye, we all need the consolations of God at last; but how can we expect to enjoy them unless we obey the precepts of religion during life? Imitate Christ —
1. In public. Most of us live in some sort of publicity. The eagle-eyed, argus-eyed world observes everything we do; and sharp critics are upon us. Let us live the life of Christ in public. Let us exhibit our Master, and not ourselves — so that we can say, "It is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth "in me."
2. In the Church. How many there are like Diotrephes, seeking pre-eminence, instead of remembering that there all men are equal — alike brethren. Let your fellow-members say of you, "He has been with Jesus."
3. In your houses. Rowland Hill once said he would not believe a man to be a true Christian, if his wife, his children, the servants, and even the dog and cat were not the better for it.
4. In secret. When no eye seeth you except the eye of God, then be ye like Jesus Christ. Remember His secret devotion — how, after laboriously preaching the whole day, He stole away in the midnight shades to cry for help from His God. Take care of your secret life.
III. WHY SHOULD CHRISTIANS BE THIS?
1. For their own sakes. For their honesty's sake, their credit's sake, their happiness' sake; let them imitate Christ.
2. For religion's sake. The professor who has not lived up to his profession; the man who eaters the fold, being nought but a wolf in sheep's clothing — such men injure the gospel more than the laughing infidel or the sneering critic.
3. For Christ's sake. "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." Be like Christ, since gratitude demands obedience; so shall the world know that ye have been with Jesus.
IV. HOW HE CAN BE SO.
1. You must know Christ as your Redeemer before you can follow Him as your Exemplar.
2. You must study Christ's character. There is a wondrous power about that, for the more you regard it the more you will be conformed to it. I view myself in the glass, I go away, and forget what I was. I behold Christ, and I become like Christ.
3. "But," say you, "we have done that, and we have proceeded but little farther." Then correct your poor copy every day. At night recount all the actions of the twenty-four hours, scrupulously putting them under review. When I have proof sheets sent to me of any of my writings, I have to make the corrections in the margin. I might read them over fifty times, and the printers would still put in the errors if I did not mark them.
4. Seek more of the Spirit of God. Take the cold iron, and attempt to weld it if you can into a certain shape. How fruitless the effort! Lay it on the anvil, seize the blacksmith's hammer with all your might; let blow after blow fall upon it, and you shall have done nothing. But put it in the fire, let it be softened and made malleable, then lay it on the anvil, and each stroke shall have a mighty effect, so that you may fashion it into any form you may desire. So take your heart, put it into the furnace; there let it be molten, and after that it can be turned like wax to the seal, and fashioned into the image of Jesus Christ. Conclusion: To be like Christ is to enter heaven; but to be unlike Christ is to descend to hell. Likes shall be gathered together at last, tares with tares, wheat with wheat.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.