Witnesses Of The Resurrection
As we are in both the Easter and Passover seasons right now, like many my thoughts get very reflective towards the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This past Wednesday night at our midweek service, I was meditating on these things and was drawn to this Scripture:
“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33 NKJV (emphasis mine)
The fact struck me the Apostles gave witness not to just Jesus, but to the resurrection of Jesus. Secondly, they did so with great power. Why would great power be needed to bear witness to the resurrection? Let us really simplify this text and boil it down to two basic points: WORDS & WORKS.
In our text, it states they gave witness. Other translations use the word testimony or testify. The Greek word used in this text is Strong’s # 3142 and really is better-translated testimony. The English dictionary defines testimony as:
A declaration or affirmation of fact or truth.
Any evidence in support of a fact.
A public declaration regarding a religious experience.
In other words, the apostles spoke about not just Jesus, but about the resurrection of Jesus.
“He looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.” Acts 2: 31 & 32 NASB (Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost) (emphasis mine)
"So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles." Acts 26: 22 & 23 NASB (Paul before King Agrippa while in prison) (emphasis mine)
We must declare the resurrection, because without the resurrection we are just another religion…but, Jesus has risen and is alive forevermore. Telling folks about the goodness of Jesus and His miracles is not enough; it is His resurrection that is the anchor of our faith and the hope of our resurrection.
“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover, we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” 1 Corinthians 15: 14-17 NASB (emphasis mine)
In our text, it states that the witness the Apostles gave was with GREAT POWER.
The word for power used in our text in the Greek is Strong’s #1411, a word which many of us are quite familiar with, it is the word Dunamis. Dunamis is defined in the concordance as:
Power for performing miracles.
Paul uses this same Greek word – Dunamis in Philippians 3:10 where he speaks about the Power of the Resurrection.
“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10 NASB (emphasis mine)
The apostles not only testified or spoke about the resurrection; they demonstrated it by the power to perform miracles.
“At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's portico. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. Also, the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.” Acts 5: 12, 14-16 NASB (emphasis mine)
“God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.” Acts 19: 11 & 12 NASB (emphasis mine)
From these simple thoughts, we can draw the conclusion that to be a witness of the resurrection we must tell it and show it, or like the old kindergarten game we played in school: ‘SHOW AND TELL’. This is a concept the New Testament bears out quite well.
“For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” Romans 15: 18 & 19 NASB (emphasis mine)
“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2: 1, 2, 4 & 5 NASB (emphasis mine)