Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled…
We should always keep the thought close to us that our spirit and our word and our conduct, as the professed disciples of the Lord Jesus, are being daily watched; sometimes kindly, sometimes unkindly, always keenly. Men do "take knowledge of us." Something must be wrong if our life as Christians is not so toned and charactered as to arrest attention. There was something about the apostles which puzzled the Sanhedrim: there was more than they were able to discern. We may see what actually did impress them, and also what might reasonably have impressed them.
I. The Sanhedrim were struck with the POWER, the COURAGE, which the apostles had gained from Christ. Power, high personal influence, moral courage, had been characteristic of the Lord Jesus. In the apostles power showed itself in firm, noble witnessing to the facts they knew and the truths which had been entrusted to them, however offensive the facts and the truths might be to the rulers who listened. In us the like power, given by Christ, may show itself in steadfastness to principle, even when that may place us in social disability; and in practical consistency, whatever may be our surroundings. Illustrate by firm keeping of the sabbath law; and by such passages as "Having done all, stand;" "Quit you like men, be strong;" "Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." There is great need of a more steadfast opposition to accepted worldly maxims and worldly habits. Christians should dare to be singular when Christly principles and the Christly spirit are imperiled.
II. The Sanhedrim might have been struck with the CHARACTERS of the apostles, as fashioned by Christ. The character of the Lord Jesus had been peculiarly his force, and these apostles had come so fully under its influence that they had become, both consciously and unconsciously, molded thereby. They had learned, as Christ's disciples, to seek "whatsoever things are true," etc. (Philippians 4:8). Their natural characters were being sanctified; and, in measure, they were exerting the influence of personal moral excellence and virtue, even as their Lord had done. This may be illustrated in St. Peter. Pure and lovely character is still the highest power on men everywhere. None can wholly withstand the influence of sweet and saintly lives.
III. The Sanhedrim might have been struck with the RULING PRINCIPLE of the apostles' CONDUCT, which they had learned of Christ. It was the principle of the constraining love. Love to Christ, by whom we are redeemed. Love to the brethren who share with us in the common redemption. And love to the unsaved, for whom we may well desire the unspeakable blessings which we have ourselves received. Love is ever seeking to find expression, and will not be satisfied with measures of self-sacrifice short of the self-sacrifice of Christ for our salvation. We cannot hope to exert the same influence on those about us that was wrought by the apostles on the Sanhedrim, until we learn to be oftener with Jesus. And that we may be in two ways.
1. In the outward fellowship of the Gospels. We may study them better. We may meditate on them more frequently. We may realize more perfectly the Christ they reveal, and so "know him," and feel the power of his presence.
2. We may be with Jesus in the inward fellowship of cherished thoughts. Taking him into our hearts as we take our dearest friend, and often holding with him secret soul-communing. Then men would plainly see upon us, day by day, the signs that we "have been with Jesus." - R.T.
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.