YOU WILL BE MY WITNESSES
“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)
Through this conference, we learned about the beautiful stories of Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection. Now I want to think with you about what the Risen Christ did for his disciples before he returned to the Father.
Verse 3 says, “After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” After his suffering and resurrection, Jesus stayed on earth 40 more days. During this period, he did two things for his disciples. First, Jesus planted resurrection faith in their hearts. Jesus appeared to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. On one occasion, he received a piece of broiled fish and ate it before them (Lk 24:42-43). They exclaimed to each other, “He is not a ghost! He has indeed risen!” His resurrection is the Father’s confirmation of what he said on the cross, “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30) Risen Savior gives us victory over the power of sin and death. He assures us that we will also rise like him in a glorious resurrection body. Second, Jesus planted a living hope of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the main theme of the Bible and Jesus’ teaching. During his earthly ministry, Jesus proclaimed the coming of God’s kingdom in people’s lives through repentance and forgiveness of sins. After his resurrection, he spoke about how the kingdom of God would spread to all peoples of all nations. He also spoke about the eternal kingdom he will establish when he comes again. Our Risen King who sits at the right hand of God said, “Look, I am coming soon!” (Rev 22:7,12,20) Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! Eternal life in the restored paradise where God is the light is our only true hope (Rev 22:5). Praise God who gave us a living hope of the glorious resurrection and the kingdom of God through Christ our Lord!
As Jesus was speaking about the kingdom of God, the apostles asked, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”(6) The Israelites had been oppressed and impoverished under the superpowers and corrupt leaders. We can understand their yearning desire for a restored kingdom of Israel. Jesus said, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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.” Like the apostles, we want first to see our life problems like job, family, and security solved. We want to see our relatives and folks be better off. But Jesus says that we are first to receive power and to be his witnesses. Why does Jesus say so?
First, Jesus wants all peoples of all nations to know God’s saving grace in his blood and come to the Father. All unbelievers are the lost children to God. How painful God’s heart must be as he watches his children to suffer under the power of sin and death and perish. So Jesus calls each of us with his two nail-pierced hands, “My beloved son, my beloved daughter, would you be my witness for your lost brothers and sisters? They should also be at our Father’s house with you and me.” Second, God wants us to bear fruit that will last. Jesus said, “I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (Jn 15:16). Jesus called us to go and bear fruit. Think about this in light of his Commission, “Be my witnesses….Feed my sheep.” Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Mt 6:31-33) God is the owner of all things. Wouldn’t our loving Father give all that we need? Unless we live as gospel witnesses and shepherds, we live for our needs and desires after the world. Jesus wants us not to live like unbelievers, but to live as God’s children to bear fruit that will last. When we live as witnesses of the gospel, God will provide for us, make us bear fruit, and heal Africa.
The author of Acts tells us what the apostles did. They accepted Jesus’ Commission, returned to Jerusalem, and they joined together constantly in prayer (Ac 1:14). This tells us the way to being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Accept the Lord’s Commission and pray. When our hearts are set on earthly things, we feel never happy or satisfied, for the Holy Spirit is grieving in us. When we obey the Lord’s will, the Holy Spirit is so happy and fills us with love, joy, peace and power. Many things will tempt us. But we can keep our hearts for God and his kingdom by holding on to God’s words and praying daily. When we give our hearts to the Lord and pray, certainly the Holy Spirit will empower us.
God has called you to be the hope of Africa. What can free people of Africa from their slavery to sin? What can heal the wounds and sorrows of young people in our lands? What can solve the prolonged problems of broken families, violence and strife in our continent? Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can. God will bring his kingdom to Africa through you! The world and everything in it passes away. Only the kingdom of God and what we did to the Lord will be forever. May God bless Ethiopia and Rwanda UBF to grow. May God fill each of Kenya and Uganda UBF chapters with 120 disciples who pray. May God raise many shepherds and missionaries among you and send them out to the campuses of Somalia, Tanzania, Eritrea, Burundi, Djibouti and to the ends of the earth.