Jesus promises power to his followers, power to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8). But witnesses to what, exactly? Luke is keen on connecting Acts to his “first book,” his Gospel. When we look there, we see Jesus commissioning the disciples to witness to his suffering and rising, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations (Lk. 24:46-48). But how can those of us who didn’t literally witness his suffering and rising still be such witnesses?
We continue to preach Jesus’ suffering and rising, of course. But our witness seems especially alive when we live and act in solidarity with those who suffer, especially when we do so in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. This is not just a sing-songy Christian happiness, but deep kingdom-bringing. It is justice-seeking, peace-making, and abiding contentment because of the presence of God. This brings the “rising” into the midst of the “suffering.”
This witness also includes disciple-making. This is taking up one’s cross in the spirit of self-denial and following Jesus. This sweeps in the message of “repentance and forgiveness of sins,” turning from self-glorification and worldly allegiances to humble service and freedom in Christ. Jesus’ commission in Mt. 28:18-20 fits here, with its new worldview of Christ’s authority, life with the Trinity, and obedience to Christ.
- To proclaim and live the message of suffering and rising;
- To herald the authority and liberation of the risen King;
- To live and lead in the way of forgiveness and humble service.
In a larger sense, the power we receive is the power to give up power, thereby witnessing to the true King. Can he get a witness?