What Does it Mean to be His Witness?
“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.“
Witness. When we hear that word, we think of evangelism. Sharing our faith. Proclaiming the gospel. We think of a set of truths we’ve studied, memorized, and can articulate. We think of truths like those articulated by one of Sonlife’s ministry partners, Dare 2 Share.
God created us to be with Him.
Our sin separates us from God.
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds.
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again.
Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life.
Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever.
That’s what we think of when we hear the word witness. But what did Jesus have in mind when He told His disciples that they would be His witnesses?
Shortly after Christ spoke those words and ascended back to the Father, the eleven apostles were determining who would replace Judas so their number would remain Twelve. Listen to the qualifications they understood for being an apostle.
“Therefore, it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a WITNESS with us of His resurrection.“Acts 1:21-22
Perhaps you’ve never noticed this. The Twelve were there with Jesus from the time of His baptism right on up to His ascension. Even before they were followers, disciples, they were in the crowd as curious onlookers, observing Jesus.
The disciples understood Acts 1:8 to mean that they were eyewitnesses who would be required to give testimony to what they had seen and heard. They weren’t just articulating truth they had been taught. They were to share their experience, which reflected the truth of the gospel message.
Shortly after appointing Judas’ replacement, Peter preached at Pentecost. My perspective of this event has been that of Peter standing up on the southern steps leading into the temple with a crowd of thousands gathered on and below the steps listening to him preach. That’s not exactly what happened though…
“Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and addressed the crowd….“Acts 2:14a
Peter didn’t stand up alone to preach. He stood up with the other eleven apostles. Yes, he was the spokesperson for the group. But all Twelve were taking a stand, attesting to the fact that they were witnesses there to verify every word that Peter was speaking. They were standing in agreement. Don’t miss Peter’s words as the spokesperson for the group.
“God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all WITNESSES of it.“Acts 2:32
We are all witnesses! We have seen and heard that which we are testifying about today.
Later, when Peter and John were walking into the temple through the Beautiful Gate and encountered a crippled beggar, Peter’s response to the man was that of a witness.
“Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.‘”Acts 3:6
Notice Peter did not say, “What I do believe, I tell you.” He did not say, “What I do know, I share with you.” No! Peter said, “What I do have.” It wasn’t just something Peter believed. It was something Peter possessed. What he had seen and heard had changed him.
As the crippled man stood to his feet healed, he went running, skipping and dancing into the temple, shouting and praising God. He caused quite a stir. Peter addressed the crowd.
“You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are WITNESSES of this.“Acts 3:15
As Peter and John were interrogated by the religious leaders for the disturbance they caused in the temple and the religious leaders tried to silence them, Peter and John replied:
“But Peter and John replied, ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have SEEN and HEARD.‘”Acts 4:19-20
When the religious leaders interrogated Peter and John, what did they take note of? Was it the towering intellect behind the theological arguments they presented? Was it the eloquence of the masterfully crafted message they shared? No!
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus.“Acts 4:13
Unschooled. The Greek word used here is agrammata, or “without grammar.” They don’t speak good! They were uneducated. Ordinary. The Greek word used here is idiota. Yes, the same word we get “idiot” from. Peter and John were a couple of uneducated idiots, or at least that’s what the religious leaders thought of them. Peter’s and John’s words were made powerful by their experience. They had been with Jesus. Their lives were transformed by the power of what they had experienced with Jesus.
After being released, when Peter and John joined the other apostles and the growing number of believers, this was their collective response.
“With great power the apostles continued to TESTIFY to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.“Acts 4:33
When a legalistic, zealous Pharisee, by the name of Saul, encountered Christ on the road to Damascus, this was what he was told His calling would be.
“Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from His mouth. You will be a WITNESS to all people of what you have SEEN and HEARD.‘”Acts 22:1415
“The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage! As you have TESTIFIED about me in Jerusalem, so you must also TESTIFY in Rome.‘”Acts 23:11
WITNESS…TESTIFY…SEEN AND HEARD.
So, what did Jesus have in mind when He told His disciples, “You will be my witnesses?“
A witness is one who testifies to what they have seen and heard. A witness is one who shares the personal encounter they have had with Christ with another person in such a compelling way that it is obvious that this witness has been with Jesus. A witness is one whose life has been transformed by the truth they’ve encountered.
Being a witness is where His story collides with our story, and we have a new story to tell.
Who will you be a witness to today?