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'Ye Shall Be My Witnesses'

These were the very last words of the Lord Jesus to His disciples. Scripture records that 'when he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight' (Acts 1:9). They were words to be acted upon and the faithful men to whom they were spoken resolved not to fail. The task seemed immense: Jerusalem, all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth! But the power to make it possible was to be given. Never is there a command without the enabling grace.

Prominent and un-named messengers

Certain names stand out prominently as those who were mightily used in carrying the glorious message: Peter, Stephen, and then Paul and his companions. But for the most part the good news was carried by un-named disciples:

They therefore that were scattered abroad went about preaching the word (Acts 8:4).

Evangeliz is the word in the Greek original. It means they carried the good tidings. Not to large crowds necessarily but to ones and twos whom they met along life's way. In Acts 11 we read of further persecution, and once again the same happy result that the Word was spread further afield. The more they were scattered, the more they spoke. Their Master's last words rang in their ears, and wherever they went they spoke of Him. 'Witness' is a legal word, used of a person who knows something, and tells what he knows. And we know something. Indeed we do! '...we know that the Son of God is come' (1 John 5:20). We know whom we have believed. But are we telling what we know? That is what turns believers into witnesses.

Spread the good news

Within about 30 years the Master's command had literally come true. To the uttermost parts of the earth the good news had spread. Who spread it? Ordinary people like ourselves. Ordinary? But their hearts were aflame with love to Christ, '...we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard', they said (Acts 4:20). Neither rulers, elders nor scribes could shut the mouths of these men. Their Master had died and risen again, and to His saving power they would witness, whatever the cost.

A cloud of witnesses

Witnesses! Martus is the word in the Greek, from which comes our English word 'martyr' one who bears witness by his death. And some of them did, too. 'They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword' (Heb. 11:37). Noble men and women! A great cloud of witnesses indeed!

And now it is our turn! Our authority comes from the risen Christ Himself; the power from the descended Holy Spirit, '...ye shall receive power... and ye shall be my witnesses' (Acts 1:8). What a privilege! May the Lord touch our hearts, and touch our tongues, so that never a day passes without our speaking of Him.