Witnessing to Jesus
When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, â€œWe gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.â€ The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them.
Last week we heard of Johnâ€™s witness. His witness to new life in Jesus was recorded near the very end of the apostolic era. Today we see a glimpse into the beginning of that era.
The apostles had recently experienced the infusion of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. They never asked â€“ What was that? The first thing they did was to stand on a balcony and proclaim the coming, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. They spent the weeks and months ahead preaching, not to gather followers, but to share the saving work of Jesus. They wanted everyone to know about Godâ€™s wonderful gift of freedom and Jesusâ€™s glorious gift of friendship, the very same friendship He offered to them at the seashore. The apostles did not preach themselves as some sort of new leadership. They did not point to themselves as having anything to offer â€“ they offered what they had â€“ their witness to Jesus Christ crucified, raised, and ascended.
Today we will welcome Vincent John into the family of Christ. What we hope and pray is that in his life he will see each of us witness strongly to Jesus crucified, raised, and ascended. Hopefully, he will never see any one of us putting ourselves before the proclamation of Jesus. Hopefully, he will see and find in the Church his new and eternal family. Hopefully, he too will take up the mantle of witness so that his children and his childrenâ€™s children will know Jesus as friend and savior â€“ the One Who offers complete freedom.
Together with Vincent we have this great opportunity, but it comes with what might be seen as a problemâ€¦ Jesusâ€™ witnesses will not go without worldly assault. There is a cost to accepting Jesus. This arrest marks the third time they had been apprehended. Soon Stephen would be chosen, would proclaim and witness, would be arrested and would be martyred. The apostlesâ€™ greatest witness is that opportunity in Jesus is greater than any challenge. It is why they lived fearless lives.
Vincent, as we have all done, takes on the opportunity and challenge. His is the call to witness to the promise of Godâ€™s friendship and freedom, which is greater than any fear. That is the real glory isnâ€™t it? The reward is that all of us have complete power and assurance in Christ. No fear in us because of Him. Ours is fearless life forever!