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When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive power, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”(Acts 1:8)
Jesus died on the cross. He came back to life in three days.And then he appeared to his disciples. He showed himself to more than five hundred brothers at one time. For 40 days, he tried to prove that he was alive, teaching about the kingdom of God. Right before Jesus was taken up to heaven, he gathered his disciples and said, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the Holy Spirit. You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit very soon. When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive power, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
In this verse, I would like you to take a close look at the expression, “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”As you know, the Holy Spirit has many names and titles. The Holy Spirit is… The Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus, and the Spirit of holiness. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life, the Spirit of truth, and the Spirit of wisdom. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of knowledge, the Spirit of understanding, and the Spirit of power.
Today, I would like to talk about the power of the Holy Spirit. Once again Jesus says, “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive power.” Yes! It is so true that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we will receive power. When we receive power from above, what will happen next? We will bear witness to Jesus Christ. Have you ever received power through the Holy Spirit? Have you ever spread the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit? I am praying that the Holy Spirit would come upon all of you.
Let us go back to today’s passage. When Jesus’disciples heard that they would bear witness to Jesus in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, they were happy about that. It is because they might have thought that spreading the gospel in Jerusalem and in all Judea wasn’t that bad. Most of the people living in Jerusalem were Jews. Most of the people living in Judea were Jews. They all spoke Hebrew.And most of Jesus’ disciples were Jews. They spoke Hebrew, too. They didn’t have any communication problems at all.
“Yes sir, Jesus! No worries! We can be your witnesses. We will bear witness to you in Jerusalem and in all Judea. We can share the gospel with the people around us in Jerusalem. We can travel even to all Judea to share the gospel. No problem!”
But when they heard that they would bear witness to Jesus in Samaria, they got stunned. They got shocked. “What did you say, Jesus? Say that again? Pardon? Sorry? Did you say that we will be your witnesses in Samaria? You’re kidding! You’re joking! Jesus, how can we travel to Samaria? We are Jews. Didn’t you know about that? No way!”
But Jesus said to them, “No! I’m serious. I’m telling the truth. I know that you can’t share the gospel in Samaria. I know that you don’t want to… But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be changed out of the blue. You will be transformed all of sudden.As a result, you will want to travel to Samaria. You will end up going there to share the gospel with Samaritan people. If you go to Samaria to proclaim the gospel, then the gospel will be spread to the ends of the earth. What I am saying is that you must go through Samaria. Otherwise, the gospel won’t be spread to the ends of the earth. Keep that in mind!”
By the way, do you know who the Samaritans were? They were half-Jew and
half-Gentile. They were blood-mixed people. Do you know how such a mixed people came about? I’m going to tell you a little bit about the history of the Samaritans.
The Jews and the Samaritans shared the same ancestors. In 722 BC, God judged the Northern Kingdom of Israel because of the people’s sin and idolatry.At that time, Israel was divided into two Kingdoms, the Southern Kingdom of Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel.And the city of Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. God was very angry with the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
So God usedAssyria to punish the Northern Kingdom of Israel. TheAssyrian army entered the Samaria. They defeated the city of Samaria. They carried away most of the Israelites who lived there as captives, but not all of them. Some of the Israelites remained in Samaria. It was impossible to take all the Israelites away.And the Assyrians brought many foreigners to Samaria. These Israelites, these Jews who were allowed to remain in Samaria soon intermarried with the foreigners, the Gentiles who worshipped false gods. The Jews did not allow their people to marry foreigners or Gentiles who worshiped false gods.
This is the way the Samaritans came about. The Samaritans were half Jews and half Gentiles. They were blood-mixed people. They were sort of like multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-racial. So, the Jews didn’t like the Samaritans.Actually, the
Jews hated the Samaritans. Of course, the Samaritans hated the Jews, too. They hated each other. They didn’t usually speak to each other. They didn’t even look at each other. The Jews turned their faces away when they saw the Samaritans on the street, saying, “What an unlucky day!”
As a Jew, Jesus knew what it means to be witnesses in Samaria. But he said to his disciples, “You will be my witnesses in Samaria.” When they heard this, they must
have been surprised, and even panicked. But Jesus said, “Don’t worry! I know you guys can’t tell the good news about me in Samaria. You can’t! But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, when you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, you can do it. By the power of the Holy Spirit, you can go to your enemies. By the love of the Holy Spirit, you can hug them. You will be able to accept them and embrace them and love them. By your own strength? No! By your own power? No! You can’t love your enemies by your own power! You need power from above! That’s why I told you that you should wait for the Holy Spirit. That’s why I told you that you would receive power. The Holy Spirit enables you to tell the good news about me not just in Jerusalem and in all Judea, but in Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”
So, about 120 disciples went back to Jerusalem and gathered in an upper room. They prayed and prayed and prayed.And then, on the day of Pentecost, all of sudden, the Holy Spirit came upon them like tongues of fire.As a result, they began to speak in foreign languages. Miracles happened. They were baptized with the Holy Spirit. In fact, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They looked like drunken men.As we all know, when we get drunk, we feel good. Right? We become more talkative. We become very brave, feeling big like Superman. Same thing! Jesus’disciples got drunk on the Holy Spirit.
Anyway, the first church in Jerusalem was born on the day of Pentecost. They kind of planted a church with 120 disciples. I don’t know how you began to plant your church. I don’t know how many Christians you began to start a church with. The first church in Jerusalem started with 120 spirit-filled disciples.Amazing! Wow!
The first church was growing rapidly. The church was increasing in number so fast. In Acts chapter 2, when Peter preached, 3,000 men got saved at one time. The Jerusalem church had more than 3,120 men. It’s a mega church. InActs chapter 4, the number of men believers grew to about 5,000.And then inActs chapter 6, as the Jerusalem church was growing bigger and bigger in number, they had to choose 7 workers like
deacons who could organize practical matters like distributing food.And then inActs chapter 7, Stephen, one of the 7 workers, one of the 7 deacons was stoned to death as the first martyr. InActs chapter 8, a great persecution broke out against the Jerusalem church when Stephen was killed.As a result, the believers were scattered through Judea and Samaria. Finally, they traveled to Samaria. Do you know who preached the good news to the Samaritans? Philip! He was also one of the 7 workers. He also shared the gospel to an Ethiopian, a black man.
Let me ask you a question before I finish my sermon. Who are your own Samaritan people? Who are your enemies? God wants you to go to your own Samaria. You can do it by the power of the Holy Spirit. You can share the gospel with your enemies by the love of the Holy Spirit. We have to go through Samaria first so that we can share the gospel to the ends of the earth. Let us all pray.