20190428 Sunday Worship Sermon
“We Are Witnesses of the Resurrection” (Luke 24:44-49)
Last Sunday was Easter Sunday.
I hope that we all live with the risen Jesus.
Today, I would like to share the story about those who witnessed the resurrection of Jesus.
According to the Book of John, the disciples, including Peter, went back to the Sea of Galilee after Jesus was crucified on the cross, there they started fishing again.
Their lives were changed when they met and traveled with Jesus, but soon after Jesus died, they went back to their old ways and behaviors.
The risen Jesus appeared to the disciples and only then did they finally realize what they were called for.
When the disciples first met Jesus, they simply followed the orders of Jesus.
After the encounter with the risen Jesus, they began to think about doing something on their own.
What did they do after they met the risen Jesus?
Yes, they began to be witnesses of the risen Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, what does it mean to be a Christian?
Of course, the first sign of becoming a Christian would be meeting with Jesus personally and experiencing the grace and love of Jesus.
After we experience Jesus in our lives, as a next step forward to the world, we become witnesses of Christ.
This is perhaps the most important characteristic in the life of Christians.
As you know the word “witness” is not commonly used.
The place we often use the word “witness” may be the courtroom.
When an accident happens, it would be difficult to resolve the issue only with the persons involved.
In this case, a witness would be necessary.
The third party will look at the issue objectively and support to judge fairly.
I would like to share my own experience.
I had a car accident before.
My car was behind of the car at the crossroad.
Suddenly, the car in front of my car slowly moved backward.
Because there were cars behind me, I could not avoid the hit.
The two cars collided.
The driver got out of his car and claimed that I hit his car.
I was totally bewildered.
No matter how much I tried to explain that it was he who moved backward to hit me, the driver did not listen.
The police came.
Sure enough, the driver insisted that I caused the collision.
In a situation like that, usually a car gets hit by the car behind not by the car in front of it.
Under this unfair situation, I wasn’t able to defend myself.
It seemed that I was going to be blamed for the accident.
Right at that moment, a man stepped forward from the crowd who was watching us.
He said that he was willing to be a witness.
He testified that the car in front of me moved backward and caused the collision.
Because of his testimony I was able to avoid the responsibility.
Yes, having a witness could be very helpful especially when you need one to avoid blame.
If so, who can be a witness?
The witness must have had been present at the scene.
You cannot ask and expect your next-door neighbor to be a witness for something they had not seen.
In order to be a witness, you have to meet certain requirements.
We are called as witnesses for Christ.
We do have some requirements to fulfill this calling.
First of all, a witness has to tell the truth.
There should be no dishonesty.
A witness should not make false statements.
There will be a punishment for a false witness.
And another requirement is that witness must have had been there at the scene.
You cannot testify to the things you have not seen and experienced.
The Bible tells us to be witnesses of Jesus and His resurrection.
As you know, the resurrection of Jesus happened two thousand years ago in the land of Israel.
We may ask, how we can be the witness of the resurrection.
Yes, it is true that it seems to be unreasonable to be witnesses of Jesus and his resurrection because we were not there at that moment, nor were we eye witnesses to the events that happened.
However, we still need to live our lives as witnesses of Jesus and his resurrection should actively influence us daily.
Although, we were not physically present at that time with Jesus two thousand years ago, the resurrection of Jesus should remain as real and continue as a tangible experience in our lives.
Then, we can overcome the time and we can still experience the resurrection of Jesus in our lives.
When it becomes real to us, then we can boldly proclaim that “Jesus is alive. Jesus is risen from dead for us...”
Yes, these are basic requirements to be a witness for Jesus.
A witness should only testify to the truth.
A witness should believe and experience Jesus and His resurrection every day in his life although he had not been physically present at the moment when Jesus was on this earth.
Besides these basic requirements, there are a few more things to be witnesses which Jesus mentioned in today’s text.
Jesus says this in the scripture.
“You are witnesses of these things. In order to be witnesses, you need to be equipped.”
What should we be equipped with?
How can we prepare ourselves to be witnesses for Jesus?
First, we should understand the Scripture.
In verse 45, it is said,
“then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (verse 45)
It is true.
To be the witness of Christ, we should open our minds to understand the Scripture, the words of God.
Furthermore, we should live by the words of God.
In our busy life style, it is difficult to spend time to read and meditate the Scripture.
However, we must remember that reading the Scripture, understanding and meditating the Scripture, and living by the words of God are the first and the most important steps to become witnesses of Christ.
When you go to the military, the first place you are assigned to is training camp or ‘Boot Camp’.
In training camp, the soldiers receive basic military training.
They will get the preparation to succeed as a soldier.
Then the soldiers will be placed in their units and start their military service.
Yes, they must be trained with basic requirements first.
Basic training is also required for an incoming employee.
A company would not just expect their new employees to perform without proper training.
It may differ slightly from company to company, but usually new employees would go through days, weeks, or months of job training to learn about the company and what the company expects out of them.
Through those trainings, the new employees would be equipped to perform effectively and efficiently at their work.
School is not an exception.
The new students need to receive orientation prior to the start of school.
Yes, as you can see, in everything we do, we need training and preparation.
We are called as witnesses of Jesus Christ.
We should receive training to be effective and efficient witnesses of Jesus Christ.
The first training we should receive is understanding of the Scripture.
Without reading, meditating, and understanding the Scripture, we cannot stand as witnesses of Christ.
Think about this.
If soldiers are deployed without proper training, the result will be terrible.
It is the same with the life of a witness.
As a witness of Jesus, we need to go out into the world after being properly equipped and trained.
The most important thing we need is to have the proper understanding of the scripture.
That is to understand the words of God.
If we don’t have this proper understanding, we would be sharing something totally different.
That would hinder our efforts to bring the Gospel to the people.
According to today’s text, Jesus opened the disciples’ minds to understand the Scripture, saying “these are my words that I spoke to you – that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled” (verse 44)
Yes, we need to remember that this was the first thing Jesus did when he called the disciples to be his witness.
Brothers and sisters, we are called “witness of Christ.”
In order to be a witness of Christ, we should read, learn and understand the Scripture passionately.
The second requirement of a witness is to know what we are testifying.
What are we testifying?
In verse 46 and 47, Jesus says that we should testify that the Christ suffered and died, and on the third day rose from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Yes, this is the message we need to proclaim to the world.
We testify that Jesus died on the cross and on the third day he rose from the dead.
We are not just testifying about the resurrection of Jesus but we are also testifying His suffering and death on the cross.
If we focus only on His resurrection, people might think that it was just given to Him without any suffering.
However, resurrection does not occur without dying first.
If we want to experience the glory of Jesus’s resurrection, we must first experience his suffering and death.
Therefore, death and resurrection must be proclaimed at the same time.
Many people want to be part of His glory but they do not want to participate in His suffering.
The message that we testify to the world is that Jesus suffered and died on the cross but he rose again on the third day from the dead.
And when we experience this in our lives, we can give true repentance to the Lord.
Repentance is a sign for conviction for those who have accepted the truth that Jesus died on the cross and resurrected for us.
Therefore, what we testify to the world is the fact that we are to die with Christ and to rise again with Christ through repentance.
Again, the reason why we must testify both death and resurrection of Jesus is so that we can understand Him better.
Jesus showed His love by humbling Himself.
He taught us to be exalted by lowering himself.
Jesus came to this world to serve, not to be served.
Understanding Jesus’ suffering and His death as well as His resurrection will help us to understand who Jesus is.
And this is why we must testify both death and the resurrection of Jesus together.
The third requirement to be a witness is receiving of the Holy Spirit.
Only those who received the Holy Spirit can be a true witness of Christ.
It is because the Holy Spirit changes us and leads us to a new life.
The disciples were scared of what was going to happen to them after Jesus died.
And their selfish mind led them right back to the world.
However, when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they became witnesses of Christ.
It was the power of the Holy Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit dwells in us we can be true witnesses of Christ.
Without power of the Holy Spirit, we cannot go out to the world boldly.
Therefore, we are longing for the Holy Spirit.
We are praying for the Holy Spirit to work within us.
In verse 49 Jesus says,
“so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high…” (verse 49)
Yes, Jesus says to his disciples to stay in the city to receive the Holy Spirit.
Where is this “city” in the Scripture?
The city refers to Jerusalem.
Then where should we stay in current time in order to receive the Holy Spirit?
Where is this “city” now?
It is the church.
What does it mean by staying in the city?
It does not mean to stay in the building.
It refers to the center of our life.
It means that the concern of our life and mind should be focused on the church, the body of Christ.
There are more attractive, more comfortable, more abundant, and more luxurious things outside of the church.
Then, why do we choose to give our lives to a place where it does not guarantee these pleasures?
It is because the church is the place where you can receive the Holy Spirit.
When our hearts and our lives long for our Lord’s church and dwell in it, we will receive the Holy Spirit.
Then we can live as the witness of Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Brothers and sisters, we are all witnesses of resurrection.
We are all witnesses of Christ.
We ought to live as witnesses.
Please be diligent in reading, meditating, and understanding the Scripture.
Please pray for your life to be aligned with the word of God.
I encourage you to witness of Jesus Christ who came to this world, humbly served us, suffered and died for us but in the end resurrected from the dead.
Let the people know that they must repent and come to Jesus for He is the Christ and our Lord.
And, for this, ask for the Holy Spirit.
Long for the Holy Spirit and His power.
With the power of the Holy Spirit, we will step forward into the world.
As we proclaim the word of God as witnesses of Christ, we will give consolation to sickness and new hope to hopelessness.
The Gospel that we testify as the witness of Christ will be the Gospel of life to those who are in suffering and in sorrows.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, God called us as to be witnesses.
Jesus tells us today, “You are the witnesses of these things.”
We should all respond to this great calling with “yes” and be the true witness of Christ. Amen