June 2, 2016
Imagine if this was your dying day, and you knew you would be saying your final good-byes to your closest loved ones. What would you say? These final words would be the most urgent things you could express, the matters that were most important to your heart.
For 40 days, we have been counting the omer, during the days of the maturing harvest of barley, and leading to the celebration of first fruits of the wheat harvest. It was during these 40 days after Yeshua arose from the grave (and many more after Him) that He appeared suddenly and unexpectedly to his disciples, and to several hundred people at a time. Now it was the 40th day — the day when He knew He would be ascending into the heavens. It would be his final moments with his beloved disciples. What did He say to them in His parting words?
In Acts 1:3, it says “During a period of forty days they saw him, and he spoke with them about the Kingdom of God.” Of course, the Kingdom of God was an important topic! But what was the topic in the very final moments (Luke 24, Mark 16, and Acts 1)? Acts 1:8 says ” But you will RECEIVE POWER when the Ruach HaKodesh comes upon you; you will BE MY WITNESSES both in Jerusalem and in all Judah and Samaria, indeed to the ends of the earth!”
This was Yeshua’s “last will and testament” to the heirs of the Kingdom, and He expected them to execute His final wishes. He instructed the disciples to stay together, waiting for the promise from the Father, the gift of the Spirit. His Spirit would empower them to be witnesses. What is the duty of a witness? It is to testify! To speak the truth! To tell what they had seen and heard and experienced, to the best of their ability!
These parting words were for them, and for all Yeshua’s disciples. Notice, we are to start with the Jewish people — Jerusalem, Judah and Samaria, and then the rest of the world. Yeshua told the woman at the well that “salvation comes from the Jews” (John 4:22). Romans 2:9-10 shows us the Father’s order — “to the Jew first”, in suffering and in blessing. The “Great Commission” is to receive the Spirit’s power, and to preach the gospel to the Jew first! Are we fulfilling the final, most important words of Yeshua?