These Men Have Been with Jesus

The Distinguishing Marks of His Presence
David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

In Acts 3, shortly after the resurrection, Peter and John were on their way to the temple to worship. Just outside the temple gate sat a beggar who’d been crippled from birth. Peter prayed for the beggar, saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6 NKJV). Instantly, the man was healed, and in utter joy, he began running through the temple area, jumping up and down and shouting, “Jesus healed me!”

This upset the authorities, who “came upon them, being greatly disturbed” (Acts 4:1-2). These backslidden shepherds were mad that God had performed a miracle through Jesus’s disciples, and they responded by throwing Peter and John in jail. The next day, these high and mighty men put the disciples on trial, asking, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” (Acts 4:7).

Peter, emboldened by the Holy Ghost, answered the rulers, “If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:9-12). 

The rulers sat stunned. Scripture says, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). These rulers recognized that some power had taken hold of Peter and John and that it distinguished them from everyone else in that court. This power was so obvious and clear to all that the rulers “could say nothing against it” (Acts 4:14).

What was this mark that distinguished Peter and John?

What set these two disciples apart was the presence of Jesus. They had Christ’s own likeness and Spirit. Those synagogue rulers realized, “We crucified Jesus; yet he’s still speaking today, working miracles, preaching repentance and moving on the people through these two unlearned men.” 

In that very hour, Peter and John were fulfilling Jesus’s command to testify of him “beginning in Jerusalem.” You see, they were witnessing through Christ’s presence in their lives. I believe this is going to be God’s powerful witness in these last days. It won’t come through preaching alone; it must come through men and women who “have been with Jesus,” shutting themselves in with him, spending time in his presence, and seeking him with all their heart and soul. The Holy Spirit will distinguish such servants with his power, and the world will say of them, “That person has been with Christ.” Here are four distinguishing marks of those who have been with Jesus.

1. They hunger for a greater measure of Christ.

Those who spend time with Jesus can’t get enough of him. Their hearts continually cry out to know the Master better, draw closer to him and grow in knowledge of his ways.

Paul desired the following for every believer: “And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into him who is the head—Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-15).

Not every Christian aspires to this kind of maturity. Many prefer a gospel that speaks only of grace, love and forgiveness. These are marvelous biblical truths, but according to Paul, they consist of basic milk and not the meat that a mature life requires. How can you grow to full stature in Christ if you refuse to hear a gospel that provokes you to seek the Lord and walk in his holiness? Those who hunger for Jesus are being prepared for the days ahead, receiving the comfort of Christ deep in their souls. When the whole world is in a panic, these believers remain at peace. 

2. They have a holy boldness and spiritual authority.

The more someone is with Jesus, the more that person becomes like Christ in purity, justice, holiness and love. In turn, their pure walk produces in them a great boldness for God. “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). The word for “bold” in this verse means secure or confident. That’s just the kind of boldness the synagogue rulers saw in Peter and John. 

When we read, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 4:8), we know the disciple wasn’t going to deliver some dry sermon. He was a Jesus-possessed man bursting with the Holy Ghost. He and John had recently come from the upper room where they had fellowshipped with the resurrected Christ. Talk about “having been with Jesus.” Now Peter was inhabited by the Spirit of the risen Lord himself. Those synagogue rulers were about to experience fire from heaven. 

Paul wrote, “We were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:2). A few verses later, the apostle made clear, “We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7). Those who spend time in Jesus’s presence become assured through both the Spirit’s tender nurture and the bold truth of the gospel. This makes them unafraid to speak the truth. They don’t have to deliver their message in an overbearing voice because they have the authority of the Holy Spirit. In every circumstance, they preach the gospel in love and mercy.

3. They have physical, visible evidence that God is with them.

As Peter and John stood waiting for judgment to be pronounced on them, the healed man stood alongside them. There was living proof in flesh and blood that Peter and John had been with Jesus. So as the synagogue rulers looked on, “seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it” (Acts 4:14). Those rulers huddled, whispering, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it” (Acts 4:16). They let the disciples go.

No doubt, Peter and John had seen the look of resignation on the high priest’s face when he realized they’d been with Jesus. Peter must have whispered to John, “If only they knew. They only remember that we were with Jesus weeks ago; they don’t realize we’ve been with the resurrected Master ever since. We were just with him in the upper room. This morning we were with him as we prayed in our cell. As soon as we get out of here, we’re going to meet him again with the brethren.”

This is what happens with men and women who spend time with Jesus. When they come away from their time with Christ, he’s with them wherever they go. 

4. They’re prepared for any crisis.

When a crisis strikes, you don’t have time to build yourself up in prayer and faith. Those who’ve been with Jesus are always ready. A couple who endured an unthinkable tragedy sent our ministry a letter that revealed they’d been with Jesus. Their 24-year-old daughter had been out with a friend when a madman kidnapped both young women. He took them to an isolated place where he let the daughter’s friend go, then he murdered their daughter in grisly fashion.

As the police informed the parents what happened, they were in shock. Their friends and neighbors wondered, “How could any parent survive this? How can they live with the horrible thought of what happened to their daughter?” Within an hour, however, the Holy Spirit had come to that sorrowing couple, ministering supernatural comfort. Of course, in the painful days that followed, those grieving parents continued to ask God why. All the while, though, they experienced divine peace and rest. 

Everyone who knew these parents was astonished at their calmness. They didn’t know that this couple had been prepared for their moment of crisis. They’d known all along that God would never allow anything to happen to them without an underlying purpose. So when the terrible news came, they didn’t fall apart.

In fact, these parents and their surviving children soon began praying for the killer. The people in their town couldn’t accept it; they called for blood. By contrast, the godly couple spoke and taught of God’s ability to provide them with strength no matter what they faced. The townspeople recognized their strength as coming only from Jesus. Soon they were saying of that couple, “They’re a miracle. Those are true Jesus people.” 

What greater evidence of God could there be than living testimonies of the transforming, supernatural power of Christ? May it be said of you, “That man, that woman, has been with Jesus.” No one will be able to deny it. Amen.