BULLETIN ARTICLE – 14 January 2018
Dictionary.com defines a witness as: “an individual who, being present, personally sees or perceives a thing; a beholder, spectator, or eyewitness”. He or she is an eyewitness. The witness gives testimony as in a court of law that affords evidence. In a court, the lawyers cross examines the witness to get at the truth of the matter. Often, the opposing lawyer attempts to reveal confusion as to the facts of the case such as time, dates, people, places, who or what is said, etc. In doing so, the witness’ credibility may be undermined especially if the witness was not entirely truthful in the first place and was making up versions of what he saw. A credible and truthful witness was essential to the judicial process. Often there are many witnesses and these witnesses either collaborate to strengthen the case or contradict to undermine it. The task of the lawyers and the judge is to sift through the evidence produced to arrive at the most probable version of the truth so that justice can be done.
Just before Jesus ascended, he focused the apostles on what he wanted them to do. He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8). After Jesus said this, the apostles present witnessed an amazing sight when Jesus was “taken up before their very eyes and a cloud hid him from their sight”. The Book of Acts (and indeed the entire New Testament) was a record of the writers eyewitness first-hand account and reported first hand accounts of events. In the words of Dr Luke who wrote the Gospel of Luke “to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (Luke 1:1-2). The writers of the New Testament also appealed to the first-hand knowledge of their readers who could either verify or dispute their accounts. There was a cost to be paid for such bold witnessing – all the apostles were martyred except Apostle John. The power to live and die for what they had seen first-hand could only have come from above and that was what the Holy Spirit brought to the lives of all those witnesses.
Jesus today is calling on us, in the 21st century, to be his witnesses as well. “In your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:15). God chose us, his children, to be his witnesses about believing in Jesus. We are asked to testify how our relationships with Jesus has changed our lives and given us this living hope. Our witness to the truth of God and the power of the Gospel of Jesus depends on our credibility and our integrity. The truth of God must be displayed by the clear witness in the lives of the men and women of God!