Through the transforming power of Christ, ordinary people can amaze the world by living extraordinary lives.
The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
The transforming power of Christ is one of the strongest testimonies we have to His claim to being God.
In the Bible, the lives of the apostles bear witness to this transforming power that Christ has in His followers.
Christ Transformed the Apostles’ Routine
Although we don’t know the professions of each of the 12 apostles, we do know a few of them.
Four of the apostles – Peter, James, John and Andrew – were fishermen by trade.
I can’t claim familiarity with the trade of fishing in Bible times. It is not hard to imagine that it required long, hard hours to provide for one’s family, with very few opportunities for time off.
We also know that Matthew was a tax collector. Tax collectors were reviled, but they could also make themselves into wealthy men.
We know that the 12 apostles set aside their livelihoods to follow Christ. We can see evidence of this when Jesus calls the 4 fishermen to “fish for people”, and all 4 leave the tools of their trade immediately to follow Him (Matthew 4:18-22).
I have read this account several times in my life, and after a while it just becomes accepted that this is what happened. But take a minute to think about that. We read no hesitation on their part. Such is the transforming power of Christ.
If Jesus were walking the earth today, and we met Him, would we drop everything in our life to follow Him around the country as He ministered and preached to people? Without knowing what they would one day become in the history of the church, this is what the apostles did.
Christ Transformed the Apostles’ Faith
The gospels give us a glimpse into the chaos and fear the apostles endured around the time of Jesus’ arrest. Peter in particular swung the pendulum a few times, wishing to protect Christ from arrest, then violently cutting off a soldier’s ear to rescue Him, until finally denying Jesus 3 times.
After the crucifixion, we’re told the apostles remained in hiding, fearing their own arrest or persecution. But the fear and uncertainty in the hearts of the apostles all went away after the resurrection.
When Jesus fulfilled prophecy by rising from the grave, the same apostles who followed Him without hesitation soon began to openly proclaim Him to the masses.
This transformation in the lives of the apostles is actually some of the best anecdotal evidence that the resurrection of Christ was a true event.
In the state of mind the apostles were in, they could not have found the fortitude to turn into powerful proclaimers of the Gospel on their own strength. Certainly not to the point of willing to be martyred for what they claimed, which most of them were.
But through the transforming power of Christ, they found the boldness necessary to stop living in fear and proclaim the name of Jesus no matter the personal consequences.
Christ Transformed the Apostles’ Authority
And then we come to today’s passage. Observers recognized the newly found authority the apostles held as representatives of Jesus Christ.
This incident happened early in the life of the church. It started when Peter and John healed a man at the temple through proclaiming Christ’s name.
Onlookers were so taken in by the healing that Peter used it as an opportunity to begin declaring Christ’s resurrection and hope. This brought the attention of the religious leaders, who had Peter and John arrested.
Peter and John were standing before all the religious leaders in Jerusalem, including the high priest. Now remember, just a few short months before, this was the same crowd that arrested Jesus and had him brought before Pontius Pilate for judgement (Matthew 26:57-66). And Peter and John knew it.
But instead of wilting, through the transforming power of Christ these men of humble origins gave bold witness to Christ’s resurrection and sole authority to give salvation. They even quoted scripture to the council! This would be like me standing up to an Ivy League scholar and presuming to teach them about whatever subject they had devoted their lives to learning.
This is already amazing enough, but then to realize Peter and John actually flummoxed the council with their response. These religious leaders did not know what to do in the face of such authority. Fearing the crowd, they let Peter and John go with a slap on the wrist.
Yes, the same Peter we just called out for being out of control. With the transforming power of Christ, Peter authoritatively took on the religious leaders of his day, and won.
Christ Can Transform Any of Us
Being separated by 2,000 years of history, it’s easy for us to think of the apostles as special and distinct from us.
And certainly, there is truth to that in one sense. Apostles are apostles because they were so named by Christ. It’s a seal of sorts on these founding members and inner circle of Christ’s church.
But in another sense, they are not distinct from any other member of Christ’s body. The transforming power of Christ is at work in any true follower of His. Christ’s power is instilled in all His followers through the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit.
So what should that mean for us?
It means that through the transforming power of Christ, we can expect to see our routines, faith, authority, and more be altered forever as we surrender daily to Him. Truly, our entire lives, starting with our hearts, will be transformed by faith in Christ.
If others are amazed by how Christ has changed us, it is evidence we are true disciples.
Are you seeing your life changed to that extent? If not, examine yourself in light of God’s word to see if you are truly walking in daily repentance, obedience, and surrender to Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5). Our Foundations series can assist with this examination.
More verses about the transforming power of Christ:
Isaiah 41:10; John 4:14; 1 Corinthians 2:3-5; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22-23; Titus 3:3-7; 2 Peter 1:3-9