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. (Acts 4:13)
On the night when Jesus was arrested and led away to be tried and eventually crucified, His disciples were scattered like sheep, just as Scripture had prophesied that they would be (Zechariah 13:7). These twelve men who had walked with Jesus, talked with Him, heard the words that He taught, and witnessed the many signs and miracles He performed, fled in fear of their own lives. Earlier that same night, when Jesus told them that they would fall away (Mark 14:27), Peter declared that, even if all the others fell away, he would not (Mark 14:29). Before the dawn of the next day, Peter had denied even knowing Jesus, not once, but three times (Mark 14:72).
Several weeks later, the man who had denied Jesus stood in front of the high priest and other members of the council, having been arrested along with John and imprisoned for preaching about the resurrection of Jesus. This same man who had, with some of the other disciples, hidden in an upper room so that he would not be arrested by the same leaders who had arrested Jesus, now stood before those leaders and proclaimed that Jesus, the man they had crucified, was risen from the dead. Peter proclaimed, to these men, who could have had him put to death, that there is no other name by which we can be saved but the name of Jesus (Acts 4:10-12).
The high priest and the other leaders knew that Jesus’ followers were all uneducated, common men. When they heard the words that Peter had spoken and saw the boldness of both Peter and John, they were astonished. So, what caused this boldness, this total transformation? Acts 4:13 gives us one reason, which was recognized by the Jewish leaders. The disciples had been with Jesus. But there were two other reasons for the boldness of Peter, John, and the rest of the disciples, reasons of which the Jewish leaders were not aware, prayer and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He commanded His disciples to remain in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father, which was the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). Jesus told them that when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they would receive the power to be His witnesses throughout the world (Acts 1:7). The disciples did as Jesus commanded, returning to Jerusalem, where they waited in an upper room. In that upper room, in unity, they devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 1:12-14). Then, on the day of Pentecost, a mighty rushing wind filled the room in which the disciples were gathered, tongues of fire rested on each of them, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. These uneducated, common men began to speak in other tongues, languages they had never before known, and they began to boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:1-4). As a result, many people came to faith in Jesus Christ.
As believers, we are called to be Jesus’ witnesses throughout the world. We are called to spread the good news of salvation that comes through faith in Jesus. And, just as Peter and John and the other disciples did, we too can proclaim the good news with boldness. It starts by being with Jesus. We need to seek His presence, learning all that we can about Him and His teachings. We must also devote ourselves to prayer, talking and listening to Him as we seek His will for our lives. And we must seek the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When we follow Jesus and make Him Lord of our lives, we are promised the help of the Holy Spirit. When we allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, He will give us what we need to boldly proclaim the good news.