“You are witnesses of these things”(Luke 24:48).

by Paul Yeung

When Jesus says, “You are witnesses of these things,”(Luke 24:48) are these words spoken only to the first disciples of Jesus, or are they for us as well? If they are also for us, how can we be the witnesses of the things that happened in Jesus’ time as we were not there?

Normally, when someone bears witness to something, they share what they “personally” saw and experienced, and they can testify that what they have said is true. When Jesus asks us to be His witnesses to the world, He is asking us first to see and experience who He is to us personally before we bear witness to all nations who He really is.

We may wonder, if we have not met Jesus personally, how can we be His witnesses? Indeed, we cannot be His witnesses if we have no personal experience and relationship with Him.

Let’s see what Jesus said to Thomas the Apostle when he had doubts about Jesus’ resurrection. “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (John 20:29) This is exactly what Jesus asks of us, that is, to see and experience Him with the eyes and heart of faith.

In practice, we can see Jesus by spending time with Him, conversing with Him in solitude. An effective way to encounter God is through meditating or contemplating on His Word. By allowing the Word of God to sink in and by following the commandments and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, we can experience and encounter Jesus not only in our minds but also with our hearts and through our actions. If we allow Jesus to live in and permeate our lives, we can feel Him and He becomes active and alive in our lives. Allowing God to abide in us also means we abide in the Body of Christ — the Church, and be frequently nourished by the Sacraments. This is how an intimate relationship with Jesus is established. This trusting relationship prompts us to count on Him in good times and in bad. Nourishing such a relationship with Jesus allows us to become His powerful witnesses to the world. Of course, we also bear witness by our lives, that is, by how we live that befits our identity as Christ’s follower.

In the end, our submission to the Spirit is most important. We need to admit that by ourselves, no matter how hard we try, we can never become an effective witness without receiving the power from the Holy Spirit. Just as we cannot earn our salvation no matter how hard we try, with our own power, we will never become His witness unless we allow the Spirit to take charge, to transform us and to empower us to accomplish what God has called us to. The same Spirit that empowered Jesus to fulfill the Father’s will will empower us to do the same.

“I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7) Jesus ascended into heaven to intercede for us before the Father, granting us the best of all gifts, His Spirit.

As we prepare ourselves to celebrate the Pentecost, let us humble ourselves and make a strong resolve to welcome and receive the Holy Spirit into our lives. In doing so, we will “be clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49), making us His powerful witnesses and ambassadors to the ends of the earth.