A Promise and a Command

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 NLT

Can you imagine how the followers of Jesus felt when Jesus Christ was taken up in a cloud right in front to them? They hadn’t grasped that He was leaving them again despite Jesus telling them that He would. Jesus left them when He was put to death on the cross. He came back to life and was with them again over a period of forty days. They had just asked Him if He was now going to restore the kingdom of Israel. But they didn’t receive the answer they desired.

Instead of kicking out the Romans, Jesus told them it was not for them [or us] to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. Instead of staying with them, He gave them a command. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

The assignment still seems difficult today. Allow me to put it in my geographical terms. Be a witness for Jesus in my city-that starts with my family, my neighborhood, my church, and my work place, and extends to my region. Next Jesus said Judea. That’s a lot of territory and a lot of people. Samaria? That must have raised eyebrows. The Jews and Samaritans despised each other. Does that mean I need to be a good witness of Jesus to people I don’t like, or to those who are enemies to my country? Yes, it does. The Jesus said, “to the end if the earth.” That still hasn’t been achieved.

It’s no wonder that Jesus’ followers stood watching Jesus disappear into the clouds. How overwhelmed they may have been. Sure, the Holy Spirit was promised, but they hadn’t been empowered by the Holy Spirit yet. Jesus left them! How alone they must have felt!

Our Lord knew their hearts, just as He knows ours. While they were steadfastly watching Jesus as He went up, two men dressed in white appeared. I think they were angels. They came with a promise.

This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)

Jesus will return! We don’t know the day or the hour, but Jesus promised to return. Jesus keeps His promises. His return is described in I Thessalonians, chapters four and five, and in Revelation.

I notice that along with the promise, it seems like the angels gave a subtle hint to Jesus’ followers to get busy. “Why do you stand gazing up into heaven?”

Jesus is coming back. Will we have fulfilled His assignment when He comes?

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on
Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

How can you and I be witnesses for Jesus? How can we be Jesus’ hands and feet for others? Let’s prayerfully consider who we will tell this week about Jesus. Do you have someone in mind? A friend challenged me to put a deadline on when I will talk to someone, with the idea that I not put it off, possible forever. Scripture tells us the Holy Spirit will give us the words to share with others. “Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (Exodus 4:12 RSV) The Holy Spirit lives in believers, giving us the power to conquer our fears and obey our Lord’s command. Let’s GO.

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for the promise that You will return. I want to be ready, having accomplished the work You have given me to do. Open my mouth with boldness. Remove my fears and my disobedience that keep me quiet when I should tell others of Your love and salvation. Help me rely on the Holy Spirit to teach me what to say. Amen.

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