The Age of Mission
“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.’ And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (vv. 21–22). - John 20:10-31
Throughout the Old Testament God called His people to be missionaries. We can think of Abraham, who bore witness and converted many of his pagan neighbors. We can think of Joseph, who stood before Pharaoh and frankly told him that the God of heaven was the only God—and Pharaoh listened. We can think of Moses preaching before a later Pharaoh who chose not to listen. We see God reaching out to the world through Elijah, who ministered to a Gentile widow, and through Elisha, who healed Naaman the Syrian, and through Jonah, who converted the city of Nineveh.
God sent missionaries not only to the world during the Old Testament; He also sent them to reform His own people. In Isaiah 6, the prophet, in the very throne room of heaven, volunteered to go and preach the truth. In Jeremiah 1, God told the prophet that He had called him before he was even born. These men preached to the nations, but to Israel first.
All these missionaries anticipated the Great Missionary, who was sent from eternity into this world in order to save it. Throughout His brief earthly ministry, Jesus Christ insisted that He had come to do and to say only what the Father had sent Him to do and to say. At His baptism, the Holy Spirit came upon Him and anointed Him for this task. Jesus went primarily to the house of Israel, but ministered to Gentiles as well, often praising their faith.
Then, having completed His work, Jesus sent His apostles into the world. John 20:21–22 shows us that we are sent out on a mission—not in order to earn peace with God, but because peace has already been made with God. We are sent out by Jesus just as Jesus was sent out by the Father. When we do mission work, communicating the Gospel, we are to do and say what God through the Bible has given us to do and say. Just as Jesus received the Holy Spirit at His commissioning, so He breathes the Spirit upon us in order to empower us unto this great opportunity.
The great mission program Jesus instituted is nothing less than the discipling of every nation on earth. Not only individuals, but nations are to recognize Jesus as King (Matthew 28:18–20). Clearly, a great mission still lies before us.
Each of us is unique. That means that no two people ever have exactly the same mission from God. Since mission involves discipling the nations, it can be as broad as all of life. Can you articulate what you believe God’s mission is for you at the present time?
Passages for Further Study
- Isaiah 6:8
- Matthew 9:37–38
- 2 Corinthians 9:10–15
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