You Will be My Witnesses
Hope Chapel, 4-25-10
by Geno Hildebrandt
Notes by Mary Jo Rekedal
Lesson: Jesus’ purpose for his followers is clear: Be My Witnesses. However, at the beginning of the story he calls his followers to wait for POWER. Both commands are important and should be followed.
Text: Acts 1: 6-11
- Have you ever talked to a soldier who participated in the Normandy Invasion? Father, grandfather, friend? If so, how did that soldier respond personally to Eisenhower’s “marching orders”? What was going on in his head as he listened to Eisenhower, or read the speech? How do you think you would have responded in that situation?
- Tell your group about an incident in which you started to accomplish a task and suddenly realized that an electric implement you were planning to use was unplugged or suddenly disconnected.
Luke is introducing his second volume on the ‘Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah’ in this sermon’s text. Volume One is entitled, ‘The Gospel of Luke’, while Volume Two is called, ‘Acts of the Apostles.’ After a few preliminary words, Luke gets right into the action with a misguided question from Jesus’ disciples, “Is it at this time that you are going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?”
Their meaning is, “Are you going to run the Romans out of town and set up your political rule in Jerusalem?” They did not yet understand that Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) nor his words recorded in Luke 17:20-21. Instead of answering this question Jesus commissioned them by telling them to wait for Power and announcing to them their life-long kingdom Purpose—to bear witness to Him under pressure.
Following these few, brief words Jesus disappears from their sight, appearing to ascend in a cloud. Two witnesses tell the gawking disciples that Jesus will return, again, in a similar manner and that they should get on about their business, obeying Jesus’ instructions.
Read Acts 1:6-11 out loud in your group.
- Describe a time in your life when you completely missed God’s purpose/intent. How did the Holy Spirit correct/redirect your thinking/perspective?
- Describe a time when you received this Power from on high. What were the circumstances? How did you know you had received supernatural Power? What was the effect on you?
- Describe a time when you have been challenged to stand for Christ, to maintain your testimony in the face of opposition and/or ridicule. Was there a time when you “folded” in the face of opposition? Has this influenced your current resolve/attitude?
- What effect does reading about the ascension of Jesus have on your faith? Your understanding of who Jesus really is? Why do you think it is important?
- Does the news of the second coming of Jesus have any impact on your life today? What, if anything, should we do differently in light of this fact?
- Geno quoted the words inscribed on the tombstone of communist philosopher Karl Marx, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” In your opinion do the words of Karl Marx have anything to do with the words of Jesus Christ?
Wrap-Up and Outreach:
In January of 1956, 5 missionaries responded to the call of Christ to be witnesses. Power to do something through the Holy Spirit that they could not do on their own had been extended to them. That power led to a call to witness in the face of death. One of those five, Jim Elliot, had written “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” (Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot)
Do you know of another, or have you studied the life of someone, who has given the ultimate sacrifice as a witness, one who stood firm in the face
of hostility and death? What was the outcome? Was God ultimately glorified? If so, how?
(Within a few years following the deaths of these 5 men, two of the widows and their children were living among this people group, telling them of God’s love for them and seeing many receive Him as Savior. One of the children was in fact baptized by one of the men who had murdered the boy’s father. End of the Spear, by Steve Saint)
- In groups of two or three share a time when you were pressured to deny you belonged to Jesus in a public setting. How did you react? How do you wish you had reacted? Ask your fellow-believers to pray for you.
- With your group determine how to take a public stand for Christ Jesus that is a bit risky. Do it together.