Jesus had been promising throughout his life that the power of the Holy Spirit would come into his followers lives, that they would receive this power and would go on their great commission, the mission of the church. This is the story of the followers of Jesus.
One thing a lot of people know is that the book of Acts is a sequel or continuation of the book of Luke. They presumably have the same author, and that author is continuing the story beyond Jesus’ resurrection. The forty days after Jesus was resurrected are kind of glossed over here with the statement, “After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”
Jesus met with the disciples after his resurrection to give them some further guidance. But the disciples still did not fully understand the nature of the kingdom of God or the meaning behind all of Jesus’ words. In some ways they were a bit dense, but in some ways we are too.
One of the main focuses of the book of Acts is on the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is not something we talk a lot about in the church, at least in specifics. The Holy Spirit is mentioned here and there, within the Trinity, but I don’t think we very clearly understand how that all works. In some ways, I don’t think we’re meant to understand it all.
But the Holy Spirit comes with a lot of power. Power that Jesus gave to us and expects us to use for his advances, not ours. Jesus tells the disciples about the Holy Spirit throughout his life, see John chapters 14-16 in your spare time if you’d like. The words Jesus uses to talk to his disciples post-resurrection are the same words used to explain to us and them the great commission.
See? We’re still not fully getting it if Jesus has to explain it us just one more time, right? I’m starting to feel a lot like Peter. Jesus says in verses 4, 5 and 8, “‘This,’ he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”… “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The book of Acts is about the great commission. It’s the start of the story of Jesus’ followers, the start of the Jesus Movement, which eventually became Christianity. It is the start of our history as a faith, as a religion, as a people of the Trinity. We do this with the power of the Holy Spirit through our Spiritual baptisms that were given to us by Jesus himself.
As Christians we are called to be witnesses. The writer of this book and the Gospel of Luke had that down. He was a witness not only to the life and activities of Jesus himself, but to the life and activities of those who followed Jesus after the resurrection, those who believed with their whole lives. We like them are charged with being witnesses to Christ in this world we live in today.
How have you witnessed Jesus this week? Have you told anyone about it? That’s the power of the Holy Spirit working right there. When we see and experience the love of Christ coming into this world to mend broken humanity. Those are the moments we are witness to, the times when we have to step forward and say, Yes! That was Jesus’ hand. That has the fingerprints of God all over it. This is a moment for believers to stand up for Jesus.
We are witnesses to Christ’s resurrection through his life, the lives of those believers who came before us, and our life. We need to think about how we are a standing example of what it means to be a part of that resurrection. This makes us ambassadors to the good news of reconciliation.
Sometimes we feel so far away from God. We feel this world cannot step further away from God but each year it seems as if it does. We are the ambassadors. We are the ones who have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to share the Good News of Reconciliation with those who have not heard it before, those who have heard it but have not listened, and those who have listened and are on this mission with us.
Often we use prayer, Bible Studies and other spiritual exercises become our excuse for not acting with the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is great. Praying for those who are in need is a wonderful thing to do. But sometimes, that person really needs a few bucks or a pair of gloves more than they need your prayers and sometimes you are the one who is called to provide that for them.
Just this past Christmas, I was with my mom in Garden and we saw a homeless man walking with a sign next to Walmart. He was freezing. It was that Saturday we had the heavy snow and it was below freezing, that next Sunday we all canceled church because of the weather. I told my mom we should buy him some gloves. We got him some hand warmers because they didn’t have gloves and when she got out of the car to hand them over she also grabbed a twenty. Well the guy didn’t need gloves. He didn’t need only our prayers in that moment. He needed our action and he needed just eleven more dollars to pay for his hotel room because he was stranded in Garden because his wife was sick and in the hospital. Eleven dollars! That was it.
The power of the Holy Spirit is in action, action for Christ and for God. Witness to Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection. In being an ambassador for the Holy Spirit we were able to give that gentlemen exactly what he needed, love, warmth, shelter, and a moment of God’s love.
The book of Acts is all about how the followers of Jesus were witnesses to his resurrection, were ambassadors to the Good News, were reminders that death is NOT the final word. Christ is alive in us today. And as followers of Jesus, we are called to continue on the story told in the book of Acts, to be faithful believers of Jesus and God, to utilize the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of that power, to be ambassadors of the Good News and to be reminders that death is not the final word.
God comes to restore broken humanity. And we are by far more and more broken each passing moment, each time we fail to take up the power of the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. We are humanity, broken and failing. But the Power of the Holy Spirit will restore us and will restore all of God’s creation.