8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
It is the Wednesday before Easter – a sort of in-between time. It is a time of waiting and wondering what will happen next. Jesus has entered the city in triumph, and now is teaching daily in the Temple. According to the Gospels, the authorities are worried and plotting to rid themselves of a person they believe could upset the political balance that had agreed upon by the religious leaders and the Roman authorities. The leaders feared the people, and Jesus seemed to be the kind of person who might stir up the hornets’ nest. So, in their mind, it was best to get rid of him and to their delight a disgruntled or may be disappointed disciple offered to turn him over to them (Luke 22:1-6).
As we read Acts 1:8, Good Friday and Easter are behind us, and Pentecost still awaits us. Once again, we’re in an in-between time. The situation is a bit different, but to the disciples there is still a lot of fear to be overcome. Now, Jesus, getting ready to depart, offers them a word of comfort and guidance. He tells them that they will receive empowerment when the Spirit comes – in that they should find comfort, for Jesus is not leaving them alone. He also offers a word of guidance – indeed, a word of challenge. They will be, when the Spirit comes, his witnesses in the neighborhood, beyond the neighborhood, and on to the ends of the earth.
As we wait for Good Friday and for Easter, what is it that stands at the tip of our tongues that needs to be said? What word of witness is God encouraging us to share? As we contemplate that word, the next question is – where are we called to share the word? Is it in the neighborhood, or is our place of witness farther from home? In this passage, we hear Jesus laying out a pattern of witness, concentric circles of influence. W e start in the neighborhood, but we don’t stay there.
Reprinted from the Central Woodward Christian Church 2010 Lenten Devotional (edited by John McCauslin).