“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

The ’YOU ARE’ statements remind us of the great love the Father has for us. Our Heavenly Father is a relational God. By that I mean that he earnestly desires relationship. Since we are made in his image, we too are relational beings.

Jesus said we are salt and light to those around us. He says our complete dependence on him is crucial for our existence. We are intimate friends of the Almighty God and creator/sustainer of the universe. Today, we look at one final ‘YOU ARE’ statement that Jesus makes regarding us. That statement is found in Acts 1:8. Jesus and his disciples are gathered on a hillside outside Jerusalem.

Imagine the emotions of his followers at this time. They had walked with Jesus for about three years. They’d seen the power of God manifest in him through healings and his teachings. They’d experienced the power of God in their own ministries. Then, in a whirlwind of activity, Jesus was brutally murdered only to rise again three days later! I can’t imagine how they must have felt.

Then Jesus utters the words of Acts 1:8, “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.” After saying this, he ascends into heaven. Amazing. Simply amazing.

His final words to us leave us with both a description of who we are and a challenge for how we should be. We are his witnesses. In order to understand what that really means we need to think for a moment of what Jesus is NOT telling us.

First of all, he tells us we are witnesses, not judges. Judges determine what is right or wrong. Judges determine our guilt or innocence. Judges have the power to sentence us for our sin, to condemn us. Yet when Jesus was face to face with the adulteress in John 8, he says, ‘neither do I condemn thee.’ John 3:17 states that Jesus didn’t come into the world to judge or condemn the world but to bring life to those who need forgiveness. In the same way, we are not called to condemn others for their sin, but to show them the way to life and forgiveness.

Jesus didn’t call us to be lawyers either. A lawyer spends his or her time defending the one position or another. They scrutinize the law and try to prove or disprove one’s guilt.  In some cases they aren’t really concerned about what the truth is, they are more concerned about proving their position.

Jesus didn’t call us to be judges or lawyers. He calls us his witnesses. In reality, a witness only has one job and that job is to tell what they have seen or experienced. Like the old line says, “Nothing but the facts”, that’s the job of the witness. An expert witness is one that knows a great deal about the subject to which they testify.

In Luke 24 Jesus says, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

A good witness isn’t responsible to evaluate motives or analyze a situation. They simply record what they have seen and experienced. Our job as witnesses is to simply show others by word and deed what we have seen and experienced with Jesus Christ. I’ll be honest with you. I don’t understand everything about God. There are many questions I have regarding how he works in this world; why some prayers seem to be answered and some don’t; why world tragedies happen and innocent people die.

I can’t answer a lot of these questions, but what I can tell you is what Jesus Christ has done for me. I can tell you about the peace I have in the midst of my failures. I can tell you how I have experienced forgiveness when I didn’t deserve it. I can tell you how, when I’m afraid or worried, he comforts me.

When Peter and John were brought before the religious leaders, they were told to stop healing people and stop talking about Jesus. Their response was, “As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20) That should be the motto for each of us as we make our way along the path we call life.

Being Jesus’ witness doesn’t mean we are super-evangelists like Billy Graham or other great preachers. Being Jesus’ witness doesn’t require special training. It certainly doesn’t mean you need to be a pastor. In fact, people are more likely to listen to you as a witness if you AREN’T a pastor or evangelist. What people really want to know is what Jesus has done for you.

Peter tells us we should always be ready to give an answer for why we have hope in Jesus. Again, not a well polished sermon, just a word of hope. He says in 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Jesus says, “When (NOT IF) you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Luke 12:11-12). In other words, I believe one of our prayers every day should be that we will have opportunities to tell others what Jesus has done for us, and that the Holy Spirit will give us the words to say.

Jesus says we ARE witnesses. It’s not a question of IF we are a witness, but how good of a witness are we? It’s not a question of how good you are, it’s a question of how good he is! It’s not about having all the right answers; it’s about knowing what he’s done for you.

My prayer for us today is that we will live in such a way that others notice a difference in our words, our actions and our attitudes, and that when they ask us why we are different we will have the words to testify, to witness what Jesus has done for us (Matthew 5:16)

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you for the opportunity I’ve had this week to share the ‘YOU ARE’ statements you have made about us. I pray now for my brothers and sisters in you. I ask that we might go forth as living witnesses to your grace, mercy and forgiveness. I pray for anyone who has not experienced your touch. I ask that they may find the peace only you can offer. In your name I pray, Amen.

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