For people of faith, it is the testimony of the faithful, their living witness in spiritual practice, that keeps the tradition vigorous, relevant, and effective. In Isaiah 43, the prophet announces God's call for a hearing, gathering the witnesses to make the case for the God or gods who deserve respect, adoration, and praise. With Judah's God seeming to abandon its people in Babylonian exile, Babylon's gods having been ascendant, and now Persia on the horizon with its gods, which God or gods is truly deserving?
It's interesting how God calls for some unusual witnesses, the ones who see but are blind, and the ones who hear but are deaf. God claims that even these otherwise useless witnesses will offer a testimony that the God of Judah and Israel alone is sovereign. The advance of God's Messiah, Cyrus the Great of Persia, against the Babylonian Empire is unfolding. Cyrus is God's chosen one to free God's people. But God's people must now offer their testimony as witnesses to the salvation of their God.
The New Testament passage follows Jesus' encounter with the two men walking away (fleeing?) from Jerusalem toward Emmaus. The two have returned to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples about meeting Jesus when Jesus appears before them all.
We hear Jesus' own testimony for them to share, a two part statement that tells how Jesus triumphed over death, and how with repentance, there is forgiveness of sins and the promise of new life for all. He closes by telling them, You are witnesses.
There are some unhelpful notions of what it means to be a "witness" and good reasons why such practices aren't very effective. An effective witness is particularly important since we've become quite cynical about people, motivations, product claims, promotional literature, and the like - and with good reason!
In the end, we need to consider our own testimony as witnesses to the good news and the new life promise in Jesus. That testimony gets rendered in many ways, some of which we may not even be aware of.
Check out the sermon video below, and find the downloads below the video panel.