If you were asked to name two or three persons, other than family, who have most positively influenced your faith journey, who would you name? What is it about them that made a difference? What did they do? How did they make you feel? Now ask: Are they perfect? Are they without problems? Do they have all the answers?

Most likely they are caring and positive, honest and genuine. They have their own problems and questions, yet they are growing in their faith. They love the Lord, and they love their neighbors (Mark 12:29-31). They are empowered in word and deed (Acts 1:8). They encourage trust in the One who gives them real hope for living (1 Peter 3:15).

I. The Disciples’ Mandate for Mission (Luke 24:44-49)
We treasure such winsome witnesses and dynamic disciples. So does the Lord. For 40 days after the first Easter, the risen Christ appeared to more than 500 of His disciples (Romans 15:6). He likely opened their minds to many of the hundreds of Old Testament teachings fulfilled in His birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection (Luke 24:45-46). He proclaimed and preached repentance and forgiveness of sins to go forth to all nations (Luke 24:47; Matthew 28:19), and He issued marching orders for His disciples in all times and places: “You are witnesses of these things” (v. 48). Then He indicated the means for carrying out this mandate is “power from on high” (v. 49).

What exactly is a witness? The early Christians boldly proclaimed the gospel, often risking severe persecution. Thus the word for “witnesses” in Luke 24:48 is martyres from which we derive our English word martyr. Centuries later, Elizabethan English held that a “wit” was a knowledgeable person. In modern English, we often think of “witnesses” in a court of law giving a firsthand account of what they know to be true. Richard Peace contends, “Witnessing is just being honest as a Christian. Witnessing is simply being true to what God has done and is doing in your life.” (Witness, 1970, p. 72). As we prepare with prayer to share, God’s Spirit will guide and provide the power.

What, then, is this “power (dynamis) from on high”? James Montgomery Boice tells how the 19th century Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel asked a Greek scholar what the word for “explosive power” was in Greek. He was told dynamis. Thus, Nobel decided to give his discovery of explosive power the name “dynamite.” This is the type of power referred to in Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8. As Boice notes, this power is seen in “the explosive, life-changing dynamic of the Holy Spirit operating through the proclamation of the gospel” (Acts, 1997, p. 25). In fact, in Acts, Luke refers to the disciples being “filled with the Holy Spirit” about 14 times. Each time this occurs, the dynamic disciples began to preach, teach and witness for the Lord!

II. The Lord’s Ascension and Adoration (Luke 24:50-53)
Having perfectly fulfilled His Father’s will (Hebrews 10:5-10) and having completed His earthly ministry, the risen Christ lead His disciples to the vicinity of Bethany on the Mount of Olives (v. 24:50). While blessing them, He was taken up into heaven (v. 24:51).

Neil Plantinga observes that Christ ascended with a body, “a real body which casts shadows, makes sounds in the gravel, and eats fish, but which is also marvelously powerful and free. What we must see is that this is the body of the future, the first fruits of a whole new nature, the first body of the new heaven and the new earth. Our Lord goes to prepare a place for us to inhabit one day with bodies [such as His]” (Beyond Doubt, 1980, p. 102).

The ascending Lord blessed His disciples, returning to His Father in heaven. The worshiping disciples returned to Jerusalem, praising their Lord and heavenly Father (v. 24:53). Soon, however, the Spirit’s power will raise their praise, guiding these dynamic disciples from joyful worship to winsome witness. It’s quite evident that they positively influenced more than a few faith journeys, as well.

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