But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8 NIV
As Jesus was preparing to return to his Father he gave some last instruction to his disciples. This charge to his disciples parallels the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20. And it is an evangelistic charge. They were to be his witnesses to the world in ever increasing circles. The book of Acts actually documents this outreach to the world. First in Jerusalem. Then expanding out into Judea and Samaria. And, finally, Paul’s travels taking the gospel out into the Roman world.
As witnesses, they were to share what they had heard and seen from Jesus. They had spent three years sitting at his feet, listening to him teach, and watching all that he did. They were in an ideal position to share that with others that they encountered. But they were not expected to do this on their own. In fact, they were to wait until they had been empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Being A Witness
It is easy to read this passage and see this as a commission given to the eleven remaining disciples, and maybe a few others who had spent a lot of time with Jesus. We too easily view this as a historical note and miss out on its relevance to those who are Jesus’ disciples today.
I have not encountered the physical presence of Jesus. Nor have I seen him work miracles or listened to him teach. But I have experienced his working in my own life. And I do have the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit. And that enables me to be his witness in my world today. I have no valid excuse for not being a witness to the power and work of the resurrected Jesus in my own life.