REFLECTION BY MAURICE WENTWORTH
“You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but
stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:48-49, NIV)
“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.” (Acts 1:8, NIV)
We have celebrated our second Easter under restrictions necessitated by the pandemic and fear,
uncertainty and a disruption of normal life have characterised many people’s experience over
the past year. Though through a different cause this could also describe the disciples’
experience leading up to the first Easter and the weeks afterwards. Think of the range of
emotions they have encountered during Jesus’s arrest, trial, crucifixion and since. Being
startled, frightened, joyful, and amazed are all mentioned just in the thirteen verses of today’s
passage (Luke 24:36-48).
This passage follows the Emmaus road story and further demonstrates to the disciples that
Jesus is alive again. It reiterates how his passion and resurrection fulfilled Old Testament
Scriptures but it goes beyond that, opening a theme which will be developed in Acts (which is
generally accepted as the second volume of Luke’s work).
Our passage concludes with the disciples being told that they are witnesses but the following
verse goes further, promising that God will clothe them with power.
It has always struck me that the two ideas in Luke 24:48-49 (being witnesses and being
equipped with power) also occur in Acts 1:8 (see above) which shows that these two ideas are
linked: The disciples are witnesses (in the sense that they have seen the risen Jesus) and will
be given power (when the Holy Spirit comes to them at Pentecost) to be witnesses (in the sense
of proclaiming the Good News of the risen Jesus).
This story unfolds through Acts as the early church gets to grips with the New Normal: They
cannot return to the pre-Easter situation. Jesus’s earthly ministry is completed and he has
ascended but he equips them through the Holy Spirit to carry on the work. They are called to
go forward and their fear is replaced with trust in God who works through them.
In the church year our story unfolds as we commemorate Ascension then Pentecost. Our task,
as always, is to proclaim by words and actions this unchanging Good News in the
circumstances in which we live. We are called to trust in God and to live in the power of the risen Christ