The words in Acts 1:8 are the last words that Jesus said before He ascended to heaven. If you ask me, that means they are some pretty important words. Let’s unpack this verse and what it could mean to you and your youth group.
Written by Luke, the book of Acts serves as our link from the Gospels to the days of the early church. Throughout this book, Luke highlights the legacy of Christ, meaning that he emphasized from where his hope comes. He wanted to be sure that believers knew their faith must be rooted in Christ, as that is from whom all mercy and grace abound.
Luke also uses this book to guide believers in their role in the gospel message. He wants to be sure that we understand our accountableness to the gospel. That is what I see as the major focus of Jesus’ final words to the apostles. Jesus wants to leave them with comforting words, but also words that challenge and even command them to do something with the knowledge they have been given through Him.
The first thing we see in Acts 1:8 is that Jesus’ message was a comfort to the disciples. You see, they have spent their time in ministry working alongside the person who brought about the ministry in the first place. While their job was not easy by any means, they did have the assurance that everything they were preaching was absolute truth because they were seeing it firsthand.
Now they were to continue that ministry but without being able to physically prove His existence. So Jesus tells them that they are not alone in this. He explains that the power that it will take to speak about Him will come from the Holy Spirit. While the disciples may not have fully understood what that meant at the time, it surely helped to know that they were not going to have to do this by themselves. This same power is in us today. We can have the confidence to carry out Christ’s message because of the power given to us by the Holy Spirit.
The second thing to pull from this text comes from the word witness. Jesus says, “and you will be My witness.” What does it mean to be a witness?
Many times we get caught up in the idea of “witnessing” as door-to-door evangelism or something similar, but it is truly much more than that.
Part of Luke’s overall purpose in Acts is to show us that we are accountable for the gospel message in our everyday lives. Imagine it as if Jesus said, “You will represent me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” That may give us a better understanding here. It is about more than just “witnessing” as we define the term today. It is about being the people who represent Christ. We must show exhibit Christ in our everyday actions.
And finally, we can unpack what Jesus is meaning by Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Of course, when speaking to the disciples He was meaning those physical places. But how do we apply that to our lives today?
Jerusalem could be seen as your closest friends, those who know you intimately. Judea and Samaria are similar to your outskirts, those who may not know you very well but are similar enough in lifestyle that you can relate to one another. And the ends of the earth are those who don’t know you and have no association with you.
Here’s where it’s tough. Many times when we see this verse we think about how we are supposed to take God’s Word to all of the world. And that is absolutely true. Our job is to make sure that all people regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, location, or social standing hear about Christ. But I feel like we miss the mark many times in our own Jerusalem. It is the people we see every day to whom we also have a responsibly to represent Christ.
So what are you doing to represent Christ in each of these areas of your life? What is your youth group doing to represent Christ in your community and in your world? What is your church doing to represent Christ in each of these areas in your ministries?
Dylan Hill is the minister of youth and education at First Baptist Church in Bolivar, Tennessee. He is an avid sports fan and enjoys teaching and building relationships.