April 12, 2017
If we did not have the Book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament, our view of Jesus’ close friends would be less positive. We know them as Apostles, courageous leaders whose commitment to Jesus drove them to a willingness to die rather than deny Him. But that is not the picture we have of them during their three years of living with Him, as recorded in the four Gospels.
These men observed Jesus demonstrate His deity. He fed thousands from a boy’s lunch, gave sight to a man born blind, healed people with leprosy, calmed the stormy sea and even brought dead people back to life. Add to this His claim to be Creator God by calling Himself the “I Am.”
Jesus told His friends that He would die and rise to life the third day. He gave them three years to observe His perfect life, His amazing wisdom and His forgiveness of sin. One of them declared that He is “the Christ, Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). At one point, they said they would be willing to die with Him.
But on the day of Jesus’ arrest, mock trial and crucifixion, these friends were hard to find. John stayed close by and was at the cross when Jesus died. Peter tried to follow during the trial, but when identified, he denied even knowing Jesus. While cruel soldiers abused Jesus’ body and religious leaders demanded His death, Jesus’ friends went home in fear of their future. They appear to have made no connection to Jesus’ promise that He had to die but would soon rise again.
Resurrection Morning changed everything and Jesus’ friends were quick to rejoice with renewed hope. But it is not until we read in the Book of Acts what happened a few weeks later, when the Holy Spirit took over their lives, that they became confident firebrand followers of Jesus and took His Story to local and far-away places. Geography, cultural barriers, religious Jesus-haters and Roman leaders – nothing could stop those men from telling Jesus’ Story of redemption.
The busyness of life combines with short-sighted thinking that sometimes keeps me from telling Jesus’ Story. I want to learn from His friends and live in such a way that each day is filled with joy and absent from regret.
Pastor Bill Ehmann