Pastor Tim preached last week on Matthew 20:20-28 in which the mother of James and John Zebedee boldly asks that her boys be made to sit at Jesus' right and left when he receives his kingdom. Gotta appreciate the good Jewish mom shamelessly asking for promotion for her kids! As Tim pointed out, Jesus was not upset with this. The other disciples became indignant, but Jesus didn’t. He appears to like it when people come to him with bold faith, whether they be James and John themselves, their mother, the centurion, or the woman with the alabaster jar.
The Holy Spirit also stirs up believers and emboldens them, making them stand up before everyone.
In Acts, the disciples are instructed to stay in the city until they are clothed with power from on High. So the disciples stay, praying together and waiting on the Holy Spirit.
After the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost, Peter “takes his stand with the eleven” and proclaims to all those assembled that he and the disciples are witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus.
The lame man in Acts 3 “stood up praising God and entered the temple.”
The authorities grab the apostles and make them stand and speak to the people about what is going on. Time and again, the Holy Spirit falls on people in Acts, and He causes them to stand. How many times? Not just a few but thirty-five times!* (I can provide the whole list upon request.) Why does Acts put so much emphasis on standing?
Is there something about standing that is a physical expression of the bold infilling of the Holy Spirit?
There is the court tradition in biblical times of requiring a witness to stand and give testimony. Nowadays, a witness “takes the stand,” but first must stand up and take an oath. In any case, I am struck by the fact that the early disciples, and many of Jesus' followers in the majority world today, are asked to clam up and sit down. But they refuse and stand!
I’m reminded of a student; a new Christian who was sitting in an Education class at university. She heard the professor declare Christianity is anti-children because Jesus said “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” My student friend could not sit for this; she interrupted his lecture, standing up and declaring, “That is not what Jesus means!” “I beg your pardon?” the professor answered, the whole class pivoting to see the student. With all eyes on her I bet she wondered to herself, “What was I thinking?” But she continued, “When Jesus said that, he meant ‘Even though it may make you suffer, I don’t care – DON’T HINDER KIDS FROM COMING TO ME!’ Jesus was advocating for the importance of children, not against it!” After the class, another student thanked her saying, “I’m so glad you said something. He says that same thing every year and no one has corrected him.”
When I was a student, a cult came to our campus and preached confusion and error about the Christian faith. We realized we had to do something to let the campus know this was not accurate, biblical Christianity. My staff worker Rich said, “I believe we need to stand up in the main quad and lead an open-air discussion and answer questions about what is true Christianity.” “Great I said, I’m totally behind you doing that.” “Oh, I’m not doing it,” he said and looked at me, “You are doing it.”
More than ever, it is important for us to open our mouths and open up about our lives to our friends, and workmates, and classmates, and friends, that we are Christians - followers of Jesus. Yes, our lives should declare who Jesus is, but let’s not swallow our light and be afraid to speak about what we have seen and heard and believe.
It’s time to stand up.
STAND UP in ACTS-- 35 times!
Acts 1:11 – Why do you stand looking up?
Acts 1:23 They “stood” or “put forward’ two men, Joseph and Matthias
Acts 2:14 Peter taking his stand with the eleven (Pentecost)
Acts 3:8 With a leap he stood upright
Acts 4:7 When they had stood them in the center
Acts 4:14 who had been healed standing with them
Acts 5:20 Go, stand and speak to the people
Acts 5:23 and the guards standing at the doors
Acts 5:25 they are standing in the temple teaching!
Acts 6:6 They set before the disciples
Acts 6:13 They put forward false witnesses
Acts 7:33 the place where you are standing is holy ground
Acts 7:55 and Jesus standing at the right hand of God
Acts 7:56 Of Man standing at the right hand
Acts 7:60 voice, LORD, not not hold this sin against them
Acts 8:38 and he commanded the chariot to stand still
Acts 9:7 those traveling with him stood speechless hearing
Acts 10:30 behold a man stood before me (Cornelius)
Acts 11:13 the angel, standing in his house
Acts 12:14 Peter stood before
Acts 16:9 of Macedonia was standing and appealing
Acts 17:22 Paul stood in their midst
Acts 17:31 because He has fixed a day in which
Acts 21:40 Paul standing on the stairs
Acts 22:25 to the centurion that stood by, is it lawful
Acts 22:30 Paul down and set him before them.
Acts 24:20 while I stood before the council
Acts 24:21 that I cried standing among them
Acts 25:10 said, I am standing before Caesar’s
Acts 25:18 when the accusers stood up they brought
Acts 26:6 and now I stand and am judged for
Acts 26:16 But rise and get up and stand on your feet.
Acts 26:22 of God, I continue to stand to this day
Acts 27:21 Paul stood up in their midst
STEVE COLBY and his family are from California where it barely rains, and they moved to Vancouver 11 years ago where it barely doesn’t rain. Dual citizens now, the Colbys are fluent in both Canadian and American English, enough to be thoroughly confused. (What did I used to call a toque? Surely not beanie…? ) Steve and Susie both serve nationally with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, Steve as the National Director of Missions. His favourite teammates in missions are his family: Susie, and kids --Caleb, Phoebe, and Lily.
You can read more of his missions thoughts and ramblings at www.missionpilgrims.com