It’s important to recall that all acts of the disciples after Pentecost in proclaiming Jesus flowed from the Holy Spirit: “All were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them.”
And so Paul and Barnabas boldly preach to the Jews -- no matter that a persecution had been organized against them by women of prominence and leading men of the city and that they were formally expelled from their territory. But even in this persecution Paul and Barnabas were “filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”
And so Paul and Barnabas impelled by the Spirit boldly make the decision that would forever alter the history of Christianity -- to proclaim the message of salvation to Gentiles — to us!
What do we celebrate during the Easter Season? An event that happened two thousand years ago? Yes, but much more. We celebrate nothing less than a new presence of God among us -- a presence that Paul describes as a “new creation” and a presence that John describes as “being born again.”
This new presence of Jesus through the Spirit emboldens us to witness to Jesus just as it emboldened Paul and Barnabas. Yes, the Spirit’s presence emboldens us to witness to Jesus to family, friends and community even when our witness is ignored or openly rebuffed. There is a deep rightness and joy in witnessing to the Good News even when our witness is rejected. God filled Paul and Barnabas “with joy and the Holy Spirit”; God will fill us also!
In every time and place salvation from Jesus must be preached! Without our witness God’s will cannot be fulfilled: “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song; sing praise.”
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