Brief Reflections on the Book of Acts #1: Witnesses

Over vacation I began reading a chapter of The Book of Acts each day. I only started later in vacation and I wasn’t very consistent. So I thought what I might do in order to have some measure of accountability is post a brief reflection on a chapter from Acts each day. The plan is to offer a thought on something in the passage that stuck out to me or that I found particularly interesting, not to provide a long or deep analysis of the entire chapter. Of course, it’s possible I may miss a day here or there; but I hope not.

The Book of Acts is a narrative that follows the birth of the church immediately after the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus, and its spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire.

I encourage you to read along with me. Here’s a link to the passage.

“You will be my witnesses

I can’t even imagine it. Those first disciples must have had their entire world turned upside down and inside out when they encountered the resurrected Jesus. Whatever grasp they thought they had of reality, experiencing their once crucified and now recently risen Rabbi no doubt undid it. Death was undone. The curse imposed on Adam, Eve, and the rest of the human race reversed. Jesus was alive–and not only was he alive, he was permanently alive. He was both the same Jesus but utterly transformed. There was continuity and discontinuity between the pre-resurrection and post-resurrection Jesus.

Like I said, who could imagine seeing a deceased beloved family member or friend alive again? Imagine turning a corner and seeing the person. Imagine hearing their familiar voice. What would that do to your reality, to your understanding of the world, to how you would live from that moment onward?

Initially, of course, the disciples didn’t believe it. When the women ran from the empty tomb to tell the others what they had seen, most of Jesus’ followers thought they were seeing things.

But then they met the risen Jesus for themselves. The same Jesus who had discipled them for three or so years. The same Jesus who taught with authority, challenged established religious and political leaders, healed the sick, and cast out evil spirits. The same Jesus who assumed divine prerogative by forgiving people and doing God’s work on the Sabbath. The same Jesus who claimed he was the Messiah, the Son of God come in human flesh. This Jesus, who had been crucified by the authorities, was now alive and well, confirming that everything he said was true–that he was who he had claimed to be. By raising him from the grave, God was essentially giving his ultimate stamp of approval to everything Jesus said and did.

And so, witnesses. That’s what Jesus said his followers would be. They would proclaim and share this new inside out and upside down reality with people around them. They would tell people about Jesus. And how could they not? Because this wasn’t about sharing an opinion. It wasn’t about debating a heated and timely topic in the news.

No.

This was about letting other people know that the way they understood life, their lives, needed a profound transformation. Things don’t work they way they believed things to work. This Rabbi from a backwater town in an uninteresting part of the Roman Empire, who was executed for causing a ruckus with those in charge, was no longer dead.

And when that hits you–really hits you–it ought to radically change your entire life from top to bottom.

When it hits us, we ought to become witnesses to this reality.

It ought to be news you share with your neighbours, news that you shout from the rooftops.

Because, it is, after all, good news. Not only good news, but the very best news of all. Jesus is alive and that changes everything.

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