In September, 490 BC the Greeks defeated the Persian Army in the Battle of Marathon. A messenger named Pheidippides was given the task of bearing the good news of the victory to the Athenian assembly. The historical legend states that Pheidippides ran the entire distance of 26.2 miles without stopping. He burst into the assembly, shouted, “We have won!” and then died. He had completed his mission. The good news had been told to those who needed to hear it.
Before his ascension, Jesus commissioned the disciples to be his messengers. They were to journey a little bit farther than Pheidippides. The disciples were to travel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth with the good news. Sharing the good news by words and actions the disciples set about their task and in doing so transformed the world.
We have been entrusted with the same message. Our “run” doesn’t need to be as exhausting as Pheidippides’, nor does it need to include a soapbox and bullhorn. We cast out demons and heal the sick in the small, everyday things we say and do as disciples of Jesus. Our words of encouragement, hugs, listening ears, helping hands and caring hearts communicate God’s love and grace to a world full of people waiting to hear the good news.
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.