It’s the week after Easter and I’ve been spending some time in the Book of Acts. It seems like a natural place to linger after resurrection day, to retrace the steps and the faith of the first disciples.
This morning I was reading Acts 4 and 5. Peter and John are arrested and interrogated multiple times and each time they basically tell the court that they can’t not preach about Jesus.
“So they called for them and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus.But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4: 18-20
“But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5: 29-32
They were eyewitnesses. They’d been with Jesus (Acts 4:13), they had front row seats to the signs and wonders prior to his crucifixion, they had first hand training from the Son of God, they had seen the empty tomb with their own eyes and they had eaten breakfast with the risen King. (John 21: 12)
Last night, I started reading a new book by Rick Lawrence called The Jesus-Centered Life. A couple of years ago I read his book Skin in the Game and absolutely loved it. I am looking forward to this new one. Here’s a quote that stood out to me last night.
“True disciples, people who follow Jesus & live out his mission, are captured & carried away by him.”
Peter and John had been captured and carried away. And, as I was reading Acts 5:32 this morning I realized that today’s disciples have no possible way of being captured and carried away unless that verse is true. We weren’t eyewitnesses…so everything hinges on the Holy Spirit…the eye witness that dwells in a Christ follower.
“We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:32
The Holy Spirit is the reason why we can’t not preach about Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is what compels us to open our mouth even though we haven’t (yet) eaten breakfast with our risen King. 🙂
The Holy Spirit was there and saw and experienced it all.
I think back on the conversation Jesus had with his disciples before he went to the cross, assuring them that he would not leave them all alone.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. “In a little while the world will see Me no longer, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live too. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, you are in Me, and I am in you. The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me.And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.” John 14: 15-21
This morning I thought again about what an incredible gift the Holy Spirit truly is. He gives us eyes to see when we are tempted to doubt or lose faith. He points us to hope when everything around us shouts despair. He fills us with peace that surpasses all understanding. He speaks to the Father for us when our aching hearts can’t find the words.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you for this eye-witness.