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.
Verse 9 then says:
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
Please take a moment to let this settle in. The very last thing Jesus said before he ascended into heaven to sit at God’s right hand is that we would receive power through the gift of holy spirit and that we are to be his witnesses. These were his parting words to us all! I’d say that’s pretty significant. A witness is one who can confirm a truth because he has direct knowledge of it. Jesus is telling us that we are to confirm, testify to the world the truth of who he is.
I can honestly say that my deepest hearts desire is to do this. Very often, though, I have found myself imparting this knowledge to blank stares (or other signs of disinterest). I’ve begun to realize that some of the blame for these signs of disinterest falls on me. I wasn’t taking the time to help them become interested. Also, a major point, I wasn’t drawing on the power available through the gift of holy spirit. These plus other faults actually hit me as I read how Jesus bore witness of himself. The Four Gospels are full of accounts of Jesus witnessing but for practicality sake I chose one event with a Samaritan woman Jesus met at Jacob’s well. This encounter is found in the gospel of John, Chapter 4.
The first thing I noticed was that this encounter took place while Jesus was resting in a place where people would gather.
“…and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.”
I realized that I very rarely just sit and rest in public places. I use to when my child was younger (playgrounds, fishing ponds, and park benches). Also, when I was single and living in New York City and Italy sitting in public places was the only way to enjoy the outdoors. There were countless times I remember striking up conversations with strangers and many of those conversations were about Jesus Christ.
Now some of you who live in cities or have nice parks near by might be spending time on park benches but some of us who live in houses with the backyard being our “hangout” need to get out to meet people. Sounds simple but it’s not always convenient.
The next thing I realized was that he was resting. He wasn’t waiting. It doesn’t say that he sat by the well to witness. It does say, “…tired as he was from the journey, sat down….” Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, a witnessing opportunity could possibly become available.
Then, what was really big was that he crossed a major cultural barrier by asking this Samaritan woman for a drink. Her response was:
“…You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?…”
Back in my early twenties before I became more aware of differences in beliefs and cultures, I invited everyone to our Bible study. I specifically remember three young men from Iran who were studying in the U.S. They came regularly to our fellowship. They were very pleasant and expressed how they were thankful to have people who cared for their well-being. They also listened intently to the Word of God that we shared with them. I have since become hesitant to share the Gospel with people of different religions. I know this has a lot to do with what I hear on the news but, I also know, that they cannot hear unless we speak and they cannot believe unless they hear (Rom. 10:14).
Jesus also used a common necessity, quenching ones thirst, to help her to understand a profound truth regarding the holy spirit (John 4:14). In fact, Jesus used many analogies to help people understand the truth. It’s important for us to realize that to help someone become interested we need to use terms they understand. You might be surprised how even things in our advanced technology can help someone understand the truth. (Of course, there are some of us who are still wondering how to respond to a text message so if you’re getting a blank stare you might want to switch to a simpler analogy!)
Now all that I’ve mentioned so far I believe is useful but what is of utmost importance is what Jesus said in Acts 1:8; that we would receive power when the holy spirit comes on us and we will be his witnesses. That means we now have power to be his witnesses. We need to draw on this power. Like Jesus we can receive revelation regarding the people we are talking with (John 4:18). God can give us a special word just for that person. I know, for me, I need to tune in to what God would want me to say or … not say. This is probably the biggest key to being Jesus’ witness. By the power of the holy spirit we can speak words that can cause people to believe just like Jesus did. “And because of his words many more became believers” (John 4:41).
Another very wonderful truth is who Jesus chose to pour out the astounding truths regarding himself, holy spirit, God, and true worship. This woman was someone that was looked down upon. Even in our day and time we’d question her credibility. She’d been married five times and is now living with her sixth man. You’ve got to wonder if she had some real relationship issues! But still she got the whole town to come to Jesus. So first point, Jesus picked you! Maybe you feel less than worthy to be a witness for him but just like this Samaritan woman you can bring people to him. Second point, don’t be too choosy on who you speak to. It’s sad to think some people might not hear about Christ because some Christians felt too embarrassed or worse yet too disgusted to be around them. I’d say that attitude is the opposite of being a witness of Jesus!
So, set some time aside to go out and find a spot to relax. When you see someone coming your way it could just be a person who needs to know Jesus. Don’t rush into a dialogue on how to get saved instead find out what they are interested in. Most importantly, follow Jesus’ example and draw on the power available through the gift of holy spirit. Don’t let cultural issues or prejudgments stop you from speaking what God would have you say.
Our heavenly Father desires everyone to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Salvation comes through a knowledge of Jesus Christ. It’s up to us to spread that knowledge, to be his witness. I think we can all continue to take his advice in John 4:35b “…I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for the harvest.”