by Sarah Brock
AM Psalm 80 PM Psalm 77, 79
1 Samuel 1:1-20; Luke 20:9-19
While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the time or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 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.’ Acts 1:4-8
In Acts, this is the last encounter Jesus has with his disciples before ascending. The ending of one story and the beginning of another. An ending that extends into the new life of the disciples post-resurrection.
After everything they’ve been through- watching as their beloved friend, teacher, leader, and their hope suffer mockery, torment, humiliation, death; the fear and loss of the days that followed; the shock of Jesus’ resurrection- the disciples, quite understandably, are a bit confused about what Jesus is up to now. They seem to be looking for the stereotypical happy ending that we all hope will arrive to end our suffering. They are hoping this is the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel; that Jesus will finally be the king they are looking for; that the time has arrived when he will restore the kingdom to Israel.
But, that is not the paradigm underlying their story.
Not only are they not coming out of the tunnel where they anticipated, but Jesus is preparing to leave them once again. However, the disciples do not have to remain alone. They will be baptized with the Holy Spirit who will abide with them. The Holy Spirit who will provide power for them to remain and to witness.
Teacher that he is, Jesus is not leaving without first giving his class directions. He makes it very clear that to remain is not to be passive. They are to witness to him throughout creation. And, their commission is also ours. We, who are also baptized with the Holy Spirit, receive the power to remain and to witness to the ends of the earth.
But, what does it mean for us to witness to Jesus in contemporary society?
How are you a witness to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection?
Sarah Brock is a postulant in the Diocese of Massachusetts and lives in Boston.
Image Credit: By Thomas Quine (A light at the end of the tunnel), Wikimedia