"He said to them:" It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority."" NIV translation
In this verse, Jesus is answering the apostles question about restoring the kingdom to the Israelites. One thing that really stands out to me is that Jesus showed them love, even when they were totally wrong in their thinking. Instead of throwing up his hands in disgust, Jesus gave them an answer they could understand and turned the focus back on God. This really is an example of patience that we should take to heart.
When you are faced by people that just don't get the whole "Christian thing", do you immediately try to fix them through your own power and words or do you shift the focus back to the Father? I must confess that sometimes I forget to stop, pray, and turn the focus back on God and free myself from the burden of changing people. That is God's job and I have to be humble enough to say that I can do nothing on my own.
"But 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." NIV translation
Jesus is still talking to the apostles here and we have already looked at the power of the Holy Spirit. The second part of this verse is what we will concentrate on today. Jesus tells them that, after they receive the power from the Holy Spirit, they WILL be his witnesses. This really jumps out at me and I may offend some people here but this is a very big misconception in the local churches of today.
Many sermons and much time is spent begging "Christians" to get involved and to be witnesses but it seems from this verse that we don't have to beg people to get involved when they have the Spirit. Therefore, let us do our part and tell people about Jesus and let them truly understand what he did for them on the cross. Then, let's allow God to work on them and lead them in their efforts to be witnesses.
Another misconception concerns what being "witnesses" really means. First of all, the word used here means martyrs. A simple definition of a martyr is someone that will tell others about Jesus without regard for the consequences. We have transformed this in our minds to mean people that die for their faith as if that is a larger sacrifice than living for Christ in a hostile environment. Do you have a hostile environment at work because they know you are a Christian? Do you live in a home where your family members do not know Jesus and you have to deal with that environment? Do you not fit into the cliques at school because of your faith? My friends, if you are in a situation like that, you are a martyr (witness) for Jesus Christ.
We, at Enduring Freedom Ministries, have another phrase that we use to describe martyrs. That phrase is "Faithful Fruitcakes" and we make a conscious decision to stand out and be different regardless of the consequences.
In the last part of today's verse, Jesus tells the apostles where they would be doing this work of being a martyr. He tells them "to the ends of the earth". We like to speed on past this part but there is another misconception that is prevalent among the local church. I believe that this misconception is one of the most damaging in the local church bodies today. The misconception is the practice of "giving money to missions" instead of going to the ends of the earth. Jesus did not tell these men to hire someone to go to the ends of the earth he told them to go. We, especially the local churches in America, have basically turned our backs on this call and rationalized it by saying we gave money for someone else to do it.