We Are Witnesses
Author: Kenneth O. Gangel
Week of September 17, 2017
Just before His ascension, Jesus challenged His disciples to be witnesses of all they had seen and heard. That challenge, and particularly the word witnesses, must have made a significant impact on Peter. In four sermons recorded in Acts, Peter alluded to witness responsibility (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39), and in every case he referred specifically to the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection.
John 20:10-31 records Jesus’ three appearances immediately after His resurrection. These are not His only appearances, but the apostle built his theme of faith by selecting these particular events. The first was to Mary Magdalene, who had gone to the garden looking for a body, not a risen Lord. Even after He first spoke, she couldn’t take her eyes off the tomb to see the Person. How beautiful to learn that though the Cross may have killed faith and hope, it could not destroy love. Jesus told her not to hold on to the past. Now there was a new relationship, and she was to be a witness to the other disciples that Jesus lives.
In Jesus’ second appearance, His frightened disciples were hiding behind locked doors. As Jesus brought them the message of peace, the angels’ promise to the shepherds was fulfilled (Luke 2:14). You may also remember Jesus’ promise to relieve the disciples’ grief by replacing it with joy (John 16:20). He gave them a measure of the Holy Spirit, probably to enhance their important learning times between the Resurrection and the Ascension. He also gave them a priestly mission, to bear witness of the living Gospel which can lead to forgiveness and new life.
But not all the Eleven were present that first Sunday night. Thomas’ characteristic pessimism had erupted into full-blown skepticism, and he showed no hesitancy in telling his friends how he felt. One week later, however, he did muster the courtesy to attend their little meeting, and there he saw the Master face to face and yielded his doubting to the risen Lord.
Question: Do you have doubts? We all do from time to time. Like Thomas, allow the reality of the living Lord to handle your hesitation today.