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"These were His last words. As they watched, He was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared -- in white robes! They said, 'You Galileans! -- why do you just stand here looking up to an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly -- and mysteriously -- as He left.'" Acts 1:9-11 (The Message).
Jesus' last and recorded words? Yes, but never His last words! He may no longer be speaking in an audible voice here but He continues to speak to us, for us and through us. He promised us and His word guarantees that He will speak to us because He is alive.
In John 10:27 He assured His followers, "'My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.'" His disciples had to learn a new skill when He left them because they were used to His physical presence. They had to learn to discern His voice among all the voices that spoke in their inner being. Through His indwelling Spirit they continued to follow Him and soon recognised His voice in their hearts.
Jesus continues to speak for us in the Father's presence. He speaks with a double voice. "...Because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them," Hebrews 7:24b, 25 (NIV).
He speaks on our behalf to the Father as our faithful High Priest, but He also speaks with another powerful voice, the voice of his blood. "But you have come to Mount Zion...to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." Hebrews 12:22a, 24 (NIV). Abel's blood cried for vengeance; Jesus' blood cries for mercy.
Jesus is also continually speaking through us. He assured His disciples that they would be His witnesses. This is something different from the obligation put on new believers as part of their mantle as Christians. You know the story...when you came to Christ you were told, "Now you must read your Bible, pray. go to church and witness," like the four wheels of an automobile. At least, that wasn't what I was told. To me, that made up the sum total of what it meant to be a Christian.
The first three obligations were fairly easy for a disciplined person but the fourth! That's where I came unstuck. My attempts at witnessing got me rebuffs that turned me off! It wasn't working for me, so I clammed up. I wasn't sure what I was witnessing to, anyway.
But Jesus did not give His disciples instructions to witness -- He said that they would BE His witnesses. Now that's a different ball game. He did not tell us to go around pounding people with the Bible. His Spirit does not give us power to witness but power to live so that we can be His witnesses. That's the subtle difference. The Book of Acts is the story of people whose lives were so transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit that they turned the world upside down.
Jesus told His disciples that their love for one another and their unity would convince the world of the truth of His coming. What if His church today took Him seriously and began to listen, really listen, to His voice? He might be speaking a very different message from the one we think we are hearing!
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