Welcome to Wednesday’s podcast. Our reading today is Luke 24: 36-53 but I will focus on verses 48-49:
‘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 few years in my previous church we had a spot of trouble with a local character who would hang out on the streets. He came into our church one night, very drunk and not feeling too happy. He started throwing his weight around (he was a big man) and decided to remove the church sound desk from its table and scatter a few Bibles around the church. When a few men intervened things kicked off – literally! The local police came and took him away – the end of it, or so we thought.
Not quite. The police decided to take statements, as this guy was well known to them. It took ages – every single detail – the police talked it through and then wrote the whole thing down. As a witness, they wanted to know what I had seen. It was clear they weren’t interested in the why (or my thoughts on the matter) – they wanted me to represent the facts as I had seen them.
A few months later the case went to court. Having never been in a court or given evidence it was a pretty intense experience. Before going into court we were shown around the courtroom and told exactly what to expect. Having watched various TV legal dramas, I was getting pretty nervous – but I remember something the lady showing us around said: “you are witnesses – just tell the court what you saw.”
‘You are witnesses’ – just tell them what you saw…
This got me thinking – knowing the difference between the ‘why’ and the ‘what’…
In today’s passage Jesus appears to the disciples. Understandably it’s a terrifying thing but Jesus invites them to experience his resurrection body – to touch him to verify it’s actually him.
This is the fulfilment of the narrative of scripture from Moses, the prophets – here is the resurrected Messiah before his followers.
Jesus says something interesting in vs 47 – ‘beginning in Jerusalem…’ – this is really significant because it shows Jesus’ intention for the good news of the Gospel to be sent out from Israel. Religious life in Israel centred around the temple in Jerusalem but now it was to leave Jerusalem – the gospel is now being sent –outwards to all nations and all peoples. The gospel is be preached and proclaimed and then he says ‘you are my witnesses…’
When I was younger I got very ‘hung up’ that when it came to evangelism it was our job is to persuade people of God’s existence by answering difficult questions about faith or some aspect of philosophy.
But I’ve come to learn that some of the most natural evangelists – sharers of the good news – are people who literally share what they’ve seen of God – in other words they’re witnesses. ‘This is what I’ve seen…’ Sometimes just simply stating what you have seen is as powerful as trying to explain why you’ve seen it. The last time I did the Alpha Course at STC I remember someone saying that what they loved most was hearing people in the group share their stories of lives changed.
I’ve often thought about my trip to court and the advice of the Court clerk – ‘just tell them what you saw…’
Perhaps if I did this more, I wouldn’t find the ‘E’ word – evangelism – to be so intimidating. We’re simply sharing ‘what’ – not defending why. Just simply sticking to the truth.
I have seen God provide and I’ve seen God heal and bring breakthroughs. I can’t always explain the ‘why’ but I can share the ‘what’ – what happened.
Let’s pray as we step out for an opportunity to talk through the ‘what’ of our faith – what we have seen God do and are seeing him doing in our lives.
Thank you Lord that we are your witnesses – we have seen you working. Lord, I ask for an opportunity to bear witness to others today! Amen.
READING: Luke 24:36-53
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.
He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘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.’
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.