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Jesus said that his followers–those who believe in him–would do the kinds of things that he himself had been doing (John 14:12). The “works” that witnessed to the reality of the Father’s presence in his life would be the very works that Jesus anticipated his followers would also do.

In previous posts, we’ve noticed how this started to play out in the lives of those who hung around Jesus. The twelve ended up doing works that were like Jesus’ works. The seventy were sent to do things very similar to what Jesus had been doing. In the book of Acts, we find followers of Jesus–who were not a part of either the band of twelve or the larger group of seventy–doing the kinds of things Jesus had been doing.

Preaching and teaching with life-changing power. Announcing the breaking in of the kingdom of God into this world. Signs and wonders to demonstrate the reality of that message. Diseased people healed. Demonized people delivered. Prophetic words shared.

The followers of Jesus were participating in an ongoing ministry that had its roots in Jesus’ own ministry and bore a real resemblance to Jesus’ ministry. And given the “great commission” issued by Jesus before his departure from planet earth (in Matthew 28:18-20), he seemed to expect an unending line of disciples and disciple-makers who would teach and train others to do everything he had taught his original band of followers.

That leads me to this thought: What are we expecting? What do we think it means to be disciples, followers of Jesus? What are we expecting will happen in and through our own lives and the lives of others we know who are friends and followers of Jesus?

The early church was facing its first real trial of persecution (recorded for us in Acts 4). The council that orchestrated Jesus’ crucifixion has taken steps against Jesus’ followers. The words and works that Peter and John have been engaged in has come to the attention of the council. They threaten Peter and John. They instruct them to stop what they are doing and release them.

What follows is instructive. Peter and John return to the community of faith. The followers of Jesus, hearing the report of Peter and John, pray. After asking the Lord to “take note” of the trouble they are facing, the believers make two requests of the Lord.

“[Lord,] grant that your bond-servants may speak your word with all confidence, while you extend your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:29-30)

What is fascinating about this prayer is the kind of expectations the believers appeared to have. Peter and John had been carrying on a ministry that resembled Jesus’ own. When threatened and told to stop doing such things, the church prayed that what had been going on would continue to go on.

The church had been participating in a ministry of proclamation and demonstration that looked like Jesus’ own ministry. When told to stop, their response was to ask for the Lord to keep on doing what he had been doing through them. They appeared to expect that they should and would continue to do the kinds of things that Jesus’ had been doing.

And their prayer was answered!


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