COMPANIONS OF JESUS
"They couldn't take their eyes off them -- Peter and John standing there so confident, so sure of themselves! Their fascination deepened when they realised these two men were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education. They recognised them as companions of Jesus, but with the man right before them, seeing him standing there so upright -- so healed! what could they say against that." Acts 4:13-14 (The Message).
Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose the guys He did to be His disciples? The other rabbis of His day went to the Beth Talmid, the "rabbi school", to look for suitable followers, men who were already schooled in the Scriptures whom they could hone in their teachings and in their ways - their "yoke", as it was called.
Jesus went to the lake and chose fishermen, tax collectors and political zealots, among others, men who had failed the entrance exam into "rabbi school". These men had a lot less to unlearn than those who were being thoroughly schooled in the doctrines and practices of the very men who opposed Jesus and finally killed Him.
There was a very good reason for Jesus rejecting the learned ones -- and Luke tells us why through the observation of the religious leaders as quoted above. Let's have a look at what they saw in Peter and John.
1. They were confident and self-assured. Not arrogant, not bigoted, not dogmatic -- but confident in the objective fact that Jesus was alive and they had seen Him and been with Him for forty days after His resurrection.
They didn't need book learning to experience this kind of confidence. They had the presence of Jesus in them just as though He were with them in person. This was even better because the Holy Spirit in them was their strength, wisdom and guide every single moment.
2. They had no training in Scripture and no formal education. That was a bonus because they had a lot less misinformation to unlearn and prejudice to overcome than the "educated" ones. How much better it was for Jesus to write on a clean page than to rub out and start again.
That doesn't mean that they did not have stuff to unlearn. One of their biggest issues was the expectation that Jesus had come to restore Israel's political fortunes. They expected Him to evict the Romans and set up a restored Davidic kingdom. Their constant bickering was about the pecking order. Who was going to be at the top in this new government led by Jesus?
3. They were companions of Jesus. That's a loaded statement. They had spent three years following Him, learning His ways, soaking up His teaching, practising His actions and attitudes. The religious hierarchy had tried to eradicate Him because He made things too hot for them. He repeatedly exposed their phoniness and they were losing face with the ordinary people they were supposed to be leading.
Now Jesus, whom they thought was safely dead and buried, had popped up again, multiplied in His followers. His Spirit was in them and they were doing what He had done. The religious rulers were not pleased. They were angry and frustrated. How were they going to put a lid on this thing?
What's more, the movement was dangerous. These people were claiming and proclaiming that Jesus, not Caesar, was Lord, that He was Saviour and Prince of Peace -- all the arrogant claims emanating from Rome. The implications were unthinkable. Instead of restoring the kingdom to Israel, they were in danger of being decimated by Roman military might.
Rome would not distinguish between the Jewish religion they tolerated and this new upstart mob that was claiming allegiance to a God who had come to earth, died and risen again and was now threatening everything that Rome stood for.
Companions of Jesus! What an indictment! That fact was responsible for the crippled man's healing and they had no argument against that!
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