God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and poured out what you now see and hear.” (Acts 2:32-33)
These are the words of Peter to a large crowd that had gathered, wondering what was happening at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost. They were hearing the sound of a roaring wind and the disciples praising God in various languages. Peter was testifying to Jesus’ resurrection and the fulfillment of his promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus had appeared to the disciples a number of times and to “more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time” according to St. Paul. (1 Cor. 15:6)
The disciples of Jesus were witnesses of his resurrection, to his physical appearances with them and to his explicit instructions.
- He showed them his pierced hands and feet. (Luke24:39; John 20:20)
- He ate broiled fish in front of them. (Luke 24:43)
- He opened their minds to the scriptures. (Luke 24:27, 45)
- He showed them where to catch 153 fish. (John 21:11)
- He appointed Peter to take care of and feed his followers. (John 21:15-17)
- He instructed them to make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:19), and to preach the good news to all creation. (Mark 16:15)
- He stated that they were to be his successors when he said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21)
- He told them, “You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:48)
- Finally, he instructed them not to leave Jerusalem, but wait for the Father’s promised gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4)
This past Saturday I attended a memorial service for my brother, Jay, who died two weeks ago. At a dinner following the service, numerous men from his church’s fellowship and Bible study shared about Jay’s witness to Jesus and the salvation that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection has brought us. A number of them said when their discussions would get off track, Jay would always bring them back with the question, “Is this about Jesus and his salvation?”
Like Peter and the disciples, we are all called to witness to Jesus and to his resurrection, life and teaching. He gives us the opportunity to experience his risen presence in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Scripture scholar N. T. Wright says in his book, Surprised by Hope, that we are called to partner with Jesus in the larger project of renewing creation and rescuing people from the way the world is now.
Partnering with Jesus includes witnessing to his risen presence in our lives as did the disciples and my brother Jay. We can do this through the example of our lives in loving and serving God and others, in standing up for the truth of God’s ways, and in sharing his word when the opportunity is given us.