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Same Mission

Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:26
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The apostles are given the Great Commision: to be Jesus’ witnesses to the end of the earth. While their commission and witness was unique, the template of being a “witness for the King” is a universal command to all disciples. As witnesses we are commanded to See the thing and Say the thing. See what God has and is doing in and around us, and tell (declare) it boldly.

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Can I get a witness?

Jono preaching last week. I was glad to hear he told a story about “Eric” and not a story about me. His stories about me are always questionable.
On one level, this is something I learned from Pastor Rod: I don’t care what really happened, which is going to be funnier?
But on another level… who is right?
For example, a couple weeks ago I was telling a story. I was playing Louis in the “King and I” and there’s a scene where it’s just me and the king’s son and we sing this duet. Kind of an angry back and forth. I am backstage playing cards with friends, and I hear the music for that scene begin. And then stop. and then begin again. And the prince begins riffing on stage “Where is that Louis kid???”
Because I am not there. I panic, I sprint, I run and make it on stage by the 3rd or 4th time the music starts.
So I tell this story, and Jono has this confused look on his face. Because he remembers that story… but he remembers the whole thing as happening to him! He played Louis and he was late on stage for that scene!
Jono story vs. Dusty story. Jono memory vs. Dusty memory. What do we do when we can’t quite agree on what happened? We go in search of witnesses.
Can I get a witness?
And the answer was: yes.
Spoiler: every witness we asked remembers my story and he has no witnesses at all. Let the record reflect!
In the end we all pretended to believe that “maybe it happened to you, too” (in the most condescending tones we could manage).



Jumping into Acts, we get to be witnesses to the establishment and rapid growth of the Kingdom of God. Jono shared more about the inauguration of the Kingdom of God last week, the establishment of Jesus’ church and the keys to His Kingdom given to us by faith. We get to see the star player, the Holy Spirit, unleashed within believers in a new way. We talked a bit about that last week, and Pentecost is coming next week.
and the verse that really launches all of Acts is Acts 1:8, Jesus’ last words to his disciples “His last command should be our first concern.”
Acts 1:8 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus says this right before he ascends. A powerful symbol. Clothed in clouds - an OT symbol of being clothed in God’s presence. Think “pillar of cloud by day” in Exodus. His ascenscion a prerequisite for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
As his final words, we are going to pay all kinds of attention to what he said.
First, he foretells a specific coming moment, the receiving of power when the Holy Spirit comes. He looks forward to Pentecost. and we will see that happen in the text next week. He looks forward to this event, and then he casts forward across the disciples entire lives to come… and beyond.
Not even a command (though he gives a parallel command in other places), Jesus speaks here about the sure and certain future. You will be witnesses. And where will you be witnesses? Everywhere.
You will be. Future tense, prophetic in this context… this is who you are going to be, what you are going to do, where you are going to go.
These are expanding Geographic / Theopolitical circles.
Jerusalem - the city they are in… Thornton
Out to Judea - the immediate province they are in. Like their County. Adams County.
To Samaria, the province to the North. Close, but very different culturally, politically and theologically. They are going to cross tremendous historical and ethnic boundaries to be witnesses in Samaria. We might say “Boulder.” Those guys are… maybe a bit different politically or culturally. We are going to have to cross boundaries to even go there.
and then (small step) to the VERY ENDS OF THE EARTH. Well, that escalated quickly. Jesus is talking directly to his disciples, to his apostles… though we read in a second there was another circle of disciples outside those apostles… but here we get the first hint that he is speaking beyond just that inner circle. They are literally going to go from Jerusalem to Judea and to Samaria… some will. Some there will go a distance from there. Perhaps Peter made it all the way to Rome, to the center of what they called the “known” world. But none of them made it to the “ends of the earth.”
Jesus casts a future beyond the men and women before him to the men and women that would follow. He sets the stage for a Mission… a Mission to the ends of the earth, to all the peoples, all the tribes, every tongue. He gives the disciples a Mission and here is our first hint that… maybe we are on that Same Mission to.
And what are they to be to these people? What is that mission?


They are to be “Jesus’ witnesses.
Witnesses. Literally “testifiers”. Especially in a legal sense. In a dispute between Jono and I, who is right? Call in your witnesses. When someone is one trial, gather eyewitnesses to confirm what happened.
I love this word because it is so stinkin’ simple.
A witness is someone who a) saw the thing(s) and b) are willing to say what they saw.
Someone saw the thing… someone says the thing. That’s a witness… and that is really all there is to that.
We can see the disciples take this mantle as witnesses seriously right away in what they do next.

Choosing a Replacement Witness

Back to business - doing what Jesus said
Look at how they receive it: what do they do immediately after hearing Jesus’ command?
Acts 1:12–14 ESV
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
A small church, around 120, devoting themselves to prayer. That is a picture of church… men and women. Doesn’t that feel familiar? And what a church! The apostles over there… Oh, that pew is where Jesus’ brothers sit with Mary! What???
Peter chooses to address the elephant in the room: the betrayal of one of the inner circle, Judas.
Acts 1:15–16 ESV
In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.
Acts 1:17 ESV
For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”
In other words, Judas’ betrayal wasn’t a mistake Jesus made in appointing Judas, it was fulfillment of Scripture, of prophecy, part of the plan.
Luke includes a parenthetical description of what happened to Judas for the reader who might not know.
Acts 2:18–19 ESV
even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
But back to a fulfillment of prophecy:
Acts 1:20 ESV
“For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “ ‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “ ‘Let another take his office.’
Acts 1:21–22 ESV
So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
Was this what God wanted them to do? Jesus said to do nothing and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit (did I stutter?)
But there is no condemnation of there activity here and an earnest prayer for Jesus’ guidance. And since Luke is writing with the perspective of at least 3 decades, it seems to turn out well enough that it isn’t worth commenting on.
Here the word there? “Witness” We need someone who saw the things we saw. A witness in the special way that only we apostles are witnesses because… who saw the thing? Who saw the baptism, and walked with Jesus, and saw his suffering and death… and resurrection.
And two men fit the bill. Doesn’t that alone change your picture of Jesus’ ministry? The twelve… but this additional outer circle along for the ride most of the time. These two men apparently almost all the time?
Acts 1:23 ESV
And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias.
The man of three names. Joseph. Barsabbas (literally Son of the Sabbath, which sounds like a curse. He’s a real Son-of-the-Sabbath… if you know what I mean). Also called Justus.
Oh, and Matt. He’s just Matt.
How do you choose between two great options? (Great model for our own decision making.)
First they pray:
Acts 1:24–25 ESV
And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”
This is, first of all, a huge moment in Christology. Jesus just ascended… but already the apostles know that they can pray to him. the “Lord” here so immediately echoes the “Lord” above in verse 6 addressed to Jesus, it is impossible to argue they aren’t addressing Jesus here as Lord. They pray for the guidance of Jesus to choose, just as they would have asked him when he was there in person last week, and just as he chose the original twelve.
And then, in long Israelite tradition, they essentially flip a coin, trusting that the God of the Universe can express his will.
Acts 1:26 ESV
And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
They picked a new apostle… but they picked him to take on a particular job, a particular mantle.


Witnesses. Witnesses to Jesus and His resurrection. Though no one (except for kind-of Paul) will take on the mantle of apostle again… we see through the rest of Acts and through the rest of Scripture… and then through all church history, we see people taking up the mantle of Witness. What is Luke doing in the very text that we are reading? He has talked to the Witnesses and is himself then delivering testimony. He is a Witness, first to what He has heard from eyewitnesses, and then later in Acts to what he witnessed himself.
I love this word because it is so simple.
Did you see the thing? Yes.
Are you willing to say what you saw? Yes.
See the thing, say the thing.
See what God has done. Say what God has done.
That’s how simple it is.

Same Mission

We are on the same mission to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the world. I am sure you have heard this connected to where you are at now. Your immediate context, your city, your school, your neighborhood. And then pushing those boundaries out to where it gets a bit more difficult. People you haven’t met yet. And then beyond that to people it is HARD to reach because you don’t like them or they don’t like you and they certainly don’t look like you.
and then, epic and huge and dramatic: TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH!!! We are on that Same Mission as Jesus’ witnesses. Empowered by that Same Spirit and on the forefront of that Same Kingdom.

My Witness

So what does it mean for me to be a witness?
What have I seen?
I have seen the Holy Spirit speak through me against my will, confessing my sin publicly.
I have seen demons manifest in friends and family, and I have seen them cast out in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I have seen (I have lived) my own heart and mind transformed by the forgiveness and love of Jesus.
Am I willing to tell those stories? Yes. To the Uber driver (I love those rides, hearing and sharing stories with people). I get opportunity up here but I get opportunity out there. If I am willing to tell the story… the Holy Spirit is ready and eager to empower me and even give me the words to say.
With my eyes wide open I am seeing what God is doing in me and around me.
And then I have the words queued up on my tongue, ready to say what I saw. If I am going to lean in any direction, I want to lean towards TOO eager to share what I saw. Somebody asks me something tangentially related… “Oh man, do I have a story to tell you!”

Your Witness

You are on that Same Mission. You are Jesus’ Witness.
What have you seen God do?
You have to see the thing first. If you haven’t seen anything, that’s okay. Pray for that. God show me! Show me your power, show me your life-changing love, show me forgiveness, show me healing, show me!
But I know many of you have incredible stories and I have had the privilege to hear many of them. We are to witness to one another just as much as to the outside world. That is, after all, exactly what the apostles do, teaching and witnessing to the community of believers, telling the the story of what they heard and saw Jesus do. that is what Luke is doing for Theophilus. You and I can witness to one another, and in that way practicing the telling of what we have seen God do in us.
How are you telling that story? Are you ready to tell your story?

Our Witness

What would this look like if we were all doing it?
A community of story tellers. That doesn’t mean we are all good at telling, or talking, or any of that. God is going to use the way you saw it and the way you say it. Because someone else needs to hear it exactly that way. My stories are loud and (sometimes) funny. Someone needs to hear it calm and quiet… or blunt and analytical… or profoundly passionate.
Someone needs to hear what God showed you just the way you say it. And that maybe the very reason why you lived that story or saw that miracle. Be Witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ. See what He is doing now. And Say it.
Acts 1:8 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
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