Can I Get a Witness?

On July 23, 1999, my family witnessed the take-off of the Space Shuttle Columbia from its launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center.  Up to that point I had watched shuttle launches on television, and even seen the exhaust trail through the Florida sky from over 100 miles away, but nothing could compare to witnessing it first-hand from the visitor’s area, just 6 miles away.  The rockets illuminated the midnight sky, and the sound, which took a few seconds to reach us, pounded against my chest like the grand finale of a giant firework display.  We cheered with the crowd. Some folks were friends of the pilot, others had come from around the world. It was a truly spectacular and unforgettable experience.

Court systems around the world value the testimony of a person who has been at the scene and witnessed an event in person.  The followers of Jesus understood this fact when, after the death of Judas, they decided to elect a replacement to complete the twelve disciples.  Their reasoning?  “Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of the resurrection.” Acts 1:21-22 (NIV – emphasis mine)

This last phrase has stuck with me since I read it.  Why?

First, the word must.  This was strong language, a command, something iron-clad, not an option.  The disciples meant business.  It had to happen.  What was so important?  This chosen individual must become a witness to the resurrection.

Notice that they weren’t looking for someone who heard Jesus teach, or who saw him feed the multitudes.  It wasn’t the healings he performed, or miracles or even his death on the cross that they needed to validate.  They were standing in witness of the resurrection.  This was an event the Roman soldiers had been paid to lie about.   Jewish religious leaders dismissed it as a rumor or exaggeration.  But the early disciples understood that without the resurrection, the other events of Jesus’ life did not hold the same meaning.

The lives of these men would be changed forever by standing in witness of the resurrection. This was not just an invitation to ‘like’ Jesus on Facebook. They remind me of the signers of the American Declaration of Independence, pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred trust. Remember Saul before he became Paul?  He was basically the bounty hunter for the Jewish religious leaders who were trying to snuff out the resurrection conspiracy. These folks meant business. This new Christianity could change the world as the religious leaders knew it, and they didn’t like it a bit. And according to history, these witnesses faced torture and death for their testimony, which stood unchanged to the end.

So when I read these words I had to ask myself,  what have I witnessed that could change my world? I wonder if I would be ready to take a stand for truth, a stand that could actually endanger my life. While I did not witness the bodily resurrection of Christ, I know the change he has made it my life — about my own resurrection, if you will.  I’ve seen Him at work in the lives of those who were dead in sin and corruption and raised to life and restored by his miraculous healing power.

I can’t stand by and let the resurrection truth and the authority of God’s Word get watered down by a society that wants to choose its own truth like a Sunday buffet.  If I do, Jesus becomes just a good teacher, and is, along with all the other religions, one of the many so-called paths to God.

The disciples thought it was important enough to keep this critical truth intact.  They paid for that commitment with their lives.  How can I do anything less?

Copyright 2011 by Mary Egidio  – permission is granted to copy this work, but with attribution, and not for commercial purposes.

P.S.  Lest you think my pen, er, keyboard has been silent, please check out http://mapstories.wordpress.com to see what God has allowed me to write lately.  Each story made me step back and say, “Wow!”  I hope they do the same for you.

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