By Kathy Pollard
Luke opens the book of Acts with a bang as he presents Jesus as the risen Savior. It makes me think of the words of an old hymn, “He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!” How thrilling it must’ve been for Luke to pen the words, “He…presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3)! The reactions of Jesus’ followers are recorded for us to enjoy. Some women and His disciples show amazement and joy. Thomas needed a little more convincing but ultimately believed. Jesus’ comeback made an impact.
2020 was a year like no other. We try to focus on the blessings, but there is no doubt there were plenty of challenges. Many endured the loss of loved ones, financial ruin, relationship strain, or physical distress. It was rough. How did Christians hold up? How did the world see us? Maybe we could’ve done better, I don’t know. But I do know that opportunity awaits! Our neighbors, friends, and co-workers are still watching and, like Jesus, we can show them that we are “alive after [our] suffering.” The text says that Jesus used “many convincing proofs.” While we can’t read hearts or perform miracles like He did, we most certainly can follow His example. Notice two “proofs” He did that we can do, too:
“Appearing to them over a period of forty days…” Jesus went out among the people. He sought out His disciples. He appeared to crowds. He spoke with individuals. After His great suffering, He didn’t stay away. He didn’t barricade Himself in the safety zone of heaven. He went out among weak humanity, including those who let Him down. This challenges me! With the political turmoil, worldly agenda, fear and suspicion, it’s tempting to hole up somewhere safe until things die down. But so many around us are suffering in the worst way, trying to live without Jesus and navigating the darkness on their own. They need to see the risen Savior and the only way to do that is for His people to put in an appearance. Perhaps on this first day of the year, there are those who are ready for something new and whose hearts are open to change. It’s exciting to think we have this fresh open door of opportunity to show Jesus to our community!
“Speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God…” Jesus went out among the people and made the most of those encounters by giving them hope. He met two individuals on a roadside and “explained to them the things concerning Himself and the Scriptures.” He touched their hearts and they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” And then they “got up that very hour” and went on to tell others, “the Lord has really risen” (Luke 24:13-35)! Jesus opened their eyes (v. 31) and helped them see that He truly was alive after the suffering.
Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions is to be a better Bible student by committing to daily Bible reading or participating in a Scripture writing plan. An easy way to “speak the things concerning the kingdom of God” is to determine to verbally share something you read that day. Did something strengthen you in your reading? Did a phrase intrigue you? Were you challenged to do better or make a change? Whatever it is, look for a way to share it with someone, every single day. It could be as simple as saying, “That reminds me of something I read just this morning…” What will you be doing? Offering hope. Leaving people better than you found them. Helping others see Jesus.
This can be a great year for Christ. Let’s get out there, encounter the people, and speak of the only things that are real and lasting. A simple phrase here, a little thought there, a post about the Bible…let’s show the world that Christians are ALIVE after 2020.