This Sunday, we focus on the reading from Acts and take our devotion from To the Ends of the Earth: A Journey through Acts.
1 Peter 4:12–19; 5:6–11
Though we today are not eyewitnesses of Jesus, we can still witness to others about the faith He has given us through His Word and Sacraments. May He use us to share this saving faith with others, that He may create faith in them too and give them everlasting life!
Acts 1:8 provides more than a road map, helpful as that is. Here, Jesus briefly indicates the capacity in which the apostles would leave the mount of ascension and go forth to serve in the locations He mentioned. They would be witnesses. This is a key word in Acts, and one which we still use a great deal today. However, it may come as a surprise that we cannot claim to be witnesses to Christ in the same way Acts uses the term to describe Christ’s early followers.
In Acts, witness means eyewitness. And the word eyewitnesses precisely describes what the apostles were. At any time they could be hauled into a court of law to offer firsthand testimony about Jesus of Nazareth, not hearsay. And this is what happened. When the Jewish council ordered Peter and John not to speak in the name of Jesus, Peter said, “We are not able not to speak of the things which we have seen and heard” (4:20, emphasis added). Clearly, Peter was not making the Gospel what he wanted it to be. Instead, he was reporting what God had done in Christ.
The same point emerges in the second half of Acts 1 when the apostles sought a replacement for Judas. Peter said it was necessary for this person to be a witness of Jesus’ resurrection. More than that, Peter also talked about the need to select someone from among the men (he used the Greek word for males) who had been with them during the whole time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among them (1:20–22).
This emphasis on eyewitness testimony is reminiscent of words Jesus spoke to His disciples the night before He died. He said, “You will be witnesses because you are the ones with Me from the beginning” (John 15:27).
Devotional reading is from To the Ends of the Earth: A Journey through Acts, pages 43–44 © 1997 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.