"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." - Acts 1:8 NKJV
These are the last spoken words of Jesus prior to His ascension to heaven. He had endured the pain and agony of the crucifixion. He had experienced and conquered death. Now, Jesus was ascending to His rightful place in heaven. Prior to ascending, however, He charged His disciples with this final commandment.
That's right, I said commandment. Jesus said, "you shall be witnesses to Me." He didn't leave room for discussion or debate. He didn't say "if you want to," or "if you feel like it." No, He pointedly said "you shall." This is a clear mandate from our Lord to be witnesses to Him. This is God's design for spreading the Gospel and increasing the Kingdom of God. Rather than feeling burdened by this charge, I believe we should feel privileged to be included in it. God could accomplish His purpose and work any way He chooses. But, He chose to include those who believe and are saved in spreading the message. This is pretty awesome!
Next we need to look at where Jesus said to be witnesses. Keeping in mind that He was directly addressing His disciples, it is important for us to understand the context. The writer of the book of Acts tells us a few verses prior to this one that the apostles had assembled in Jerusalem, as Jesus had commanded. This is the first place Jesus told them to be witnesses. They were to start where they were already located.
Applying this to us today, we are to be witnesses of Jesus to those in our home community. Perhaps this is to our immediate family, or neighbors, or coworkers. I am not saying this will be easy, but we must remember these are the words of our Lord. It wasn't easy for the apostles to start in Jerusalem. The religious leaders of the day just had Jesus arrested, beaten, and crucified. Now, the apostles were being called to continue His message, in the midst of the same religious leaders!
Next, Jesus told the apostles to branch out to Judea. This was the province in which Jerusalem was located. In today's terminology, it would be like the county, district, or province our hometown is located in.
Then Jesus mentioned to take the message to Samaria. This caused immediate controversy. The apostles were Jewish, and Jews did not go to Samaria. To put it mildly, they didn't play well together. In fact, the Jews and Samaritans despised each other. Does Jesus call us to be a witness to people with different beliefs, to people that our society rejects, to people that despise us? That is exactly what He commanded His disciples to do here. And, He expects the same from us.
Finally, Jesus told His apostles to take His message to the ends of the earth. Wasn't this an unrealistic expectation? Perhaps Jesus was exaggerating the extent He wanted them to share His message. Nope! He meant it. And that is exactly what the apostles did. They took His message and spread it throughout the world. In fact, you and I are reaping the benefits of their obedience to share the Gospel around the world. Like the apostles, we are also called to take the Gospel message around the world.
In summary, Jesus commands us to be a witness of Him to our local communities--then to our counties, provinces, states, and countries--then to the entire world. You may be thinking this is an impossible task, and I would agree with you if it weren't for one detail Jesus told to His apostles.
Jesus told them they would receive power from the Holy Spirit that would equip them to fulfill this mandated mission. This word for power is the Greek word dunamis, which has the same root for the English word dynamite. To put it another way, Jesus was saying when the Holy Spirit equips His followers, they have explosive power to be bold witnesses for Him. This is absolutely amazing!
The team at Outspoken Faith Designs believes in this mandate so strongly, we have adopted it as our focus verse. It is our mission to fulfill this commandment, and to equip other believers with fulfilling this commandment. We strive to do this through weekly blog posts that are meant to serve as teaching and encouragement, as well as selling merchandise that provides hope and boldness to share the Gospel message. Here is an example: