A legend recounts the return of Jesus to heaven after his time on earth. Jesus bore the marks of his earthly pilgrimage with its cruel cross and shameful death. The angel Gabriel approached him, so the legend goes, and said, "Master, you must have suffered terribly for men down there."
"I did," Jesus replied.
"And," continued Gabriel, "do they know all about how you loved them and what you did for them?"
"Oh, no," said Jesus, "not yet. Right now only a few people in Galilee know." "Gabriel was perplexed. "Then what have you done," he asked, "to let everyone know about your love for them?"
Jesus said, "I've asked Peter, James, John, and a few of my friends to tell other people about me. Those who are told well in turn tell other people about me and my story will be spread to the fartherest reaches of the globe. Ultimately, all of mankind will have heard about my life and what I have done."
Gabriel frowned and looked rather skeptical. He knew full well what poor stuff humans were made of. "Yes," he said, "but what if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? What if way down in the twentyfirst century, people just don't tell others about you? What then? Haven't you made any other plans?
And Jesus answered, "I haven't made any other plans. I'm counting on them." Twenty centuries later, he still has no other plan. He is counting on us.
High on God's priority list is saving the lives of men and women. God's heart beats for the souls of men and women. In fact, it is his constant thought, his continual pursuit, and his consistent plan. This passion is reflected in Jesus. Jesus is God revealed. And Jesus "came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10). It is reflected in Jesus' commission to the church. The church is the body of Christ in the world today. The church is to "Go and make disciples of all the nations" (Matthew 28:20). It is reflected in some of Jesus' final words while on earth to individual believers. Each believer represents Jesus. Jesus said, "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 1:8).
Just as God is in the life-saving business so is Jesus, so is the church, and so are individual believers. We can't escape that fact. The plan for saving those lives that was given to Jesus, then to the church, and then to individual believers has not changed. There is no other plan.
The inspiration. Jesus said, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you." The Holy Spirit indwelt God's people at Pentecost to give believers the power to witness. The power is given for a purpose. That purpose is to be a witness. The endowment of power was the prelude to the effectiveness of the witness. The Holy Spirit equips us to boldly share our faith. That power provides us with the equipment and the motivation to share our faith.