“for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard.”
Paul was a man who would preach wherever he could. The urgency of his message burned within him, and was keen to proclaim it wherever he could. Pity the poor jailers who were chained to this one man Missionary Agency!
This verse is taken from a sermon he preached from the steps of the Roman Barracks in Jerusalem, and he is describing the events surrounding his conversion. It contains the core of his commission, and stands as a model of mission for every Christian.
Mission. Evangelism. Proclamation. These are words which can chill many a Christian heart as the cold tentacles of unease begin to tighten their grip. We may have a deep faith ourselves, but the prospect of telling others about it is an uncomfortable one. We think of Billy Graham, or those street preachers who used to stand on street corners with Bible in hand.
Happily the commission we receive - as we can see from Paul’s example - is simply to bear witness of what we have seen and heard. Some may be bold in that witness, but most will be quiet. Some may have extraordinary experiences to share, but for most the experience of God is more gradual. We are not called to give all the answers to all the questions,. we are simply called to bear witness to what we have experienced.
In a court case, it is not the job of the witnesses who are called to the stand to convince the jury of the rights or wrongs of the case. That is the job of the barrister, or the advocate. It’s not the job of the witness to decide if the person on trial is guilty or not. That’s the job of the Jury. It’’s the judge who passes sentence, and deals with the consequences of the jury’s decision.
All the witness does is say what they have experienced. That is the calling of us all.