The Bible tells us that Jesus didn’t immediately go to heaven after He rose from the dead. For forty days, Jesus spent time on earth in his resurrected, glorified body. During this time period, we see Jesus throughout the gospels appearing to the disciples to encourage and teach them.
Even after spending three years with Jesus, these disciples were thinking, hoping and wishing that Jesus would physically establish His kingdom then and there. He told them in Acts 1:7, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” He wanted them to focus on being His witnesses.
The very next thing He said to them Acts 1:8 would be His very last words on earth: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
If all God wanted from you was just to have a relationship with you, don’t you think He would have taken you to heaven immediately after you accepted Christ? We’ll be developing our intimate relationship with Christ throughout the endless age. The reason He left us here is because there is a Gospel to preach, a Jesus to proclaim, and Good News to tell to the world.
Jesus has called us in our personal lives to be faithful witnesses. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
When I was a college freshman, I had the opportunity to share Christ with a guy named Eric in my dorm who was an atheist. I truly sensed the Holy Spirit softening his heart. I explained to him that it takes more faith to be an atheist than to be a Christian. Either creation came from nothing, or it came from something.
He began to follow that train of thought. I shared Gospel with him, and told him he could pray to receive Christ right there and then, and know he would be in presence of God for eternity, should he die in his sleep that night.
Tears welled up in his eyes, and I thought for sure this was the moment he was going to become a Christian. But he said, “Josh, I’m just not ready now.” I prayed with him anyway, and he went back to his dorm room.
I lay in bed for several hours beating myself up because he didn’t respond. I soon lost touch with him because I transferred schools at the end of the semester.
Sometime later, I was talking to a friend of mine involved in campus ministry, who mentioned that Eric was at a retreat that weekend.
Stunned, I asked my friend if this is the same Eric who lived on our hall as a freshman. He confirmed it, and told me that Eric had been given life to Christ, and was involved in campus ministry leadership.
It was through that phone conversation that God taught me that we’re not responsible for the harvest. Rather, we’re responsible for sowing a seed and being faithful to tell others.
We’ve all got one purpose and it’s to fulfill those last words of Jesus. Heed them as never before. They are vital.