Rev’d Jonathan Gale
48You are witnesses of these things.
What is it to be a witness?
Normally it refers to you telling someone about something you have either seen or experienced in some way.
Why do I ask this question? Well, it’s because Jesus tells the disciples in 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.
So if this is what we are to do, then it might be worth having a look at how we do it. Correct?
Let’s see what we can learn from Dr Luke.:
- The disciples are still nervous because it is so soon after Jesus had been ripped away from them and crucified.
- The women had reported that two angels had told them Jesus was risen.
- Peter ran to the tomb, found the large stone rolled away and the linen grave clothes lying in a bunch
- Then Jesus appears to them.
He’s suddenly in the room and quietens them down. Why? Because 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Now this is where we start learning the three things we need to know about being a witness.
44 Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
If you witness something directly, you can speak about it. However you can also witness something if you read about it. Jesus talks about everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms. The next verse says 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
- The scriptures both Old and New Testaments talk about Jesus.
What do the scriptures say about Him? Jesus tells them. 46and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah* is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,
- The scriptures tell us Jesus is to suffer (and that includes dying) and rise from the dead after 3 days
Right there, we’ve already got 2 things we can witness about: Jesus dying and rising from the dead.
So what does Jesus expect next? The next verse:
47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. . 48You are witnesses* of these things.
- Jesus expects that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem
How do 2 and 3 link? Why should the death and resurrection of Jesus be effective in dealing with the alienation of humankind from God?
So, let’s summarise: According to Jesus this is how we are to witness: We are to tell people that:
- The Scriptures talk about Jesus
- They say he is to be killed and come to life again after three days
- We are to tell people that because of his death and resurrection, they are to repent and will receive forgiveness in his name
Let’s have a quick look at what Peter says as recorded by Luke.
- He and John are on the way to the temple to pray when they come across a lame man whom they heal in Jesus’ name.
- A crowd gathers, so they speak to the people
18In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah* would suffer.
The prophets say Jesus would suffer (and that includes dying of course). Where did they read that? In the Scriptures! So the Scriptures tell about Jesus dying.
In Vs 15 he said : and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
- The scriptures tell us Jesus is to suffer (and that includes dying) and rise from the dead
In Vs 19: Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out,
- Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter tells them, they are to repent (to turn to God) and they will be forgiven.
Peter is carrying out the same pattern Jesus spoke of.
Let’s end by summarising:
- Jesus expects us to witness
- We can be witnesses because we can tell other people that the Scriptures talk about Jesus
- We can be witnesses because we can describe how he was killed and rose again
- We can be witnesses because we can tell people he expects them to turn towards him and when they do they will have their sins forgiven.
Now let me tell you something. That is both the simplest and the most powerful sermon you have ever heard. But it’s worth nothing unless you go out and do it.
You’ll be surprised at the power of the Gospel – the Good News – and don’t forget, it is good news.
And in conclusion, here’s a good reminder for us all: No-one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
God bless you
Readings for today:
Acts 3: 12-19
1 John 3: 1-7
Luke 24: 36b-48