If you professed Jesus to be the Son of God, your Savior from the penalty of your sins, and the Lord to whom you submit your life, how did you come to know Him? Think about the people who poured into you, helped you in some of your darkest times by showing you the light of Christ, or who are walking beside you as you follow Jesus together. Let’s face it. Life can throw a lot of demands at us for our attention, time, energy, and capacity. We can easily forget about the people who pointed us to know and follow Jesus.
After a two-year sermon series on the life of Jesus in The Gospel of Matthew, we open the pages of Luke’s account of The Acts of the Apostles. Like Matthew, Luke also wrote a gospel account of Jesus’ life. The Book of Acts is his follow-up to his gospel. Acts tells the story of the Holy Spirit’s work to form and unite the Church with Christ, through faith.
At first glance, Luke’s audience appears to be a man named Theophilus whose name means “Loved by God” and in the Greek, it carries the idea of being a “Friend of God.” There is a theory that Luke’s audience may have been one person or any person who come to the story of Jesus as a Friend of God, wanting to know more, and to follow Jesus. So, before we go any further, let’s just say that among the people who influenced you to put faith in Jesus, you can include Luke on your list of influences.
The first half of Chapter One has a fascinating story of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples after appearing to them many times, after his resurrection. Jesus offered them many proofs that he indeed was raised from the dead. He also instructed them to go stay in Jerusalem and wait for a gift promised to them by God, their heavenly Father. Jesus offered them a hint as to what the gift was. The gift was the baptism of the Holy Spirit (v. 5). For some reason, Jesus’ words weren’t enough for his disciples. They pressed him to reveal when he would restore the Kingdom to Israel. Imagine that! These men witnessed a resurrection and they could only imagine a link to the restoration of the earthly kingdom of Israel! Jesus dismissed their question by saying that it wasn’t their place to know when the Kingdom of God would be restored. And then, Jesus said this to his followers:
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. (v. 6)
After Jesus said this, he was taken up into heaven and the disciples stood there, looking into the sky, like children who watch a helium balloon disappear. And then, two men dressed in white stood beside them and essentially “dope slapped” them to disrupt their stupor saying,
Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.
So what is our takeaway in all of this? It appears that the disciples were commanded to offer a witness about Jesus to people who were local, regional and global. So is this command for them, and not us? Actually, the command is for us too. How so? At the end of Matthew, Jesus told his disciples to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to obey all that he had commanded his disciples to do. So, BOOM, there it is: In the Book of Acts, the disciples will teach us how to be witnesses to the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and glory of Jesus.
This sermon series is going to be amazing, exciting, instructive, fear-producing and assuring, all at the same time! You will learn that just as God sent people to witness to you, the reason for you being here is to be a witness. Stay tuned to learn how!