Luke 24:44-53 (GW)   … Jesus said to them, “These are the words I spoke to you while I was still with you.  I told you that everything written about Me in Moses’ Teachings, the Prophets, and the Psalms had to come true.”  Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.  He said to them, “Scripture says that the Messiah would suffer and that He would come back to life on the third day.  Scripture also says that by the authority of Jesus people would be told to turn to God and change the way they think and act so that their sins will be forgiven.  This would be told to people from all nations, beginning in the city of Jerusalem.  You are witnesses to these things.

“I am sending you what My Father promised.  Wait here in the city until you receive power from heaven.”

Then Jesus took them to a place near Bethany.  There He raised His hands and blessed them.  While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken to heaven.

The disciples worshiped Him and were overjoyed as they went back to Jerusalem.  They were always in the temple, where they praised God.

The word ‘witness’ is found in the dictionary having as one of its definitions: ‘a person who gives evidence about something that has happened.’  The whole life of Jesus was a witness to His almighty Father’s compassionate every-giving love.  Jesus said to His disciples, You are witnesses to these things.  By the power and grace of the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word, the Bible, the Lord calls us to be His witnesses sharing what He has given to us so that others may come to know God the Father’s saving love.  Our words and actions are to be a witness of our faith in Jesus which is to move us to deeds of mercy in our life together.

In the Gospel Reading for today, Jesus spoke to His disciples so that they could understand the Holy Scriptures He fulfilled.  He told them why He came into the world: to suffer, die and rise from death which paid for all sin and saves us from the power of death and the Devil.  Jesus sent the Holy Spirit so that all who believe may be witnesses to all people about God’s saving love when they lived lives of repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name.  Jesus said, You are witnesses to these things.

Jesus speaks to us today when pastors preach the Word of God at all times in word and deed.  Pastors are sent by God to teach the Law, reminding all of what God expects of His people.  The Law of God shows us our sinfulness, our visible rebellious disregard for Jesus’ teaching.  The Law shows how deaf we are to Jesus’ compassionate call of forgiveness, life and salvation especially when we refuse to be His witnesses.  Thankfully our Lord raises up pastors who also preach the Gospel to us that offers God’s forgiveness through repentance and faith, teaching of the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding.  The Good News is that Christ came into the world as the great witness of God the Father’s abounding love.  Through Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection we are all still offered forgiveness.  As repentance and forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in Jesus Name, the Holy Spirit continues to call, gather, enlighten and sanctify people to the one true faith.  In every way God’s Word of Jesus is shared all may come to know God’s grace, we are to be witnesses to these things.

Jesus spoke to the women of the LWML so that they may be His women in mission.  Throughout the years, the Lutheran Woman’s Quarterly, a magazine published by the LWML has included Bible studies to be used all over the world.  Through the Word, the Lord calls everyone to be involved with lives of witnessing.  Real life examples are found in the Lutheran Woman’s Quarterly about faith practiced in life to give encouragement for all believers.  Mustard Seed devotions, also available from the LWML, are available to be left in hotel rooms, restaurants, and greeting cards to give witness of Christ.  You are to be witnesses to these things.

Jesus does not send His people where He Himself has not gone.  In the Gospel Reading today, Jesus led His disciples out of Jerusalem to the small town of Bethany.  Earlier, Jesus had led them out of their previous occupations to follow Him.  Jesus led His disciples out of slavery to sin to the freedom of forgiveness.  Jesus leads His people out of death into life.  He did this saving work when He died on the Cross for all sin and rose from the dead so that we may live as His witnesses.

Christ continues to lead the Church out so that we may be His witnesses.  When He brought us to the water of Holy Baptism we died to sin and rose to newness of life.  Buried with Him in our Baptism, we are united with Him in His resurrection.  He gathers His people at the altar to receive His Body and Blood, then Christ leads His people from the altar into the world.  We are sent out of this place of worship into the world to be witnesses of the power of God’s Word.  There is no need to be afraid because He is with us always, even to the ends of the Earth, preparing the way for us.  As Christ leads us, we are to be witnesses of these things.

Christ has led the LWML as we hear in the words of the Pledge which we will speak together soon: “In fervent gratitude for the Savior’s dying love and His blood-bought gift of redemption, we dedicate ourselves to Him with all that we are and have….  Christ Jesus was the One sent by God the Father to be the witness of love and the LWML members respond by witnessing of Jesus.  By the power of the Holy Spirit given through the Means of Grace, the LWML goes out to declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all people.  The money gathered in Mite boxes by the LWML is used to share God’s love on every continent as a witness to these things.

Jesus opened His hands and blessed His disciples as He sent them out to witness His death and resurrection for all.  Eventually they shared the Gospel of Jesus with a countless number of people.

Even today, Jesus blesses us for service to Him in everything we say and do.  He gives us His Body and Blood blessing us with the peace of our sins forgiven.  Today as we remember how He blesses the LWML notice how they have shared the gifts God has given them so congregations are opened, schools supported, many special ministries begun, lives transformed by the Gospel when they witness.  The witness of God’s people brings hope to the nations.  It begins in worship as Jesus comes to us in His Word and speaks through us, leading us, and blessing others through us.

We are to be witnesses to these things.  Speaking the truth in love and serving the Lord with gladness, let us rejoice that Christ speaks to us, leads us out, and blesses what we do in Jesus’ name.