Text: Luke 24:33-49
Theme: Even though from beginning to the end, mission is God's work, yet he invites us to be his co-laborers.
Pastor William Hsueh
What is the motive for missions, for missionary work? To some, it is the crying needs in some parts of the world. Others are attracted to mission work because they find themselves unable to fit in their present societies. Some look at it as a glorious adventure for God, like a holy war. Still others, though a minority, see it as part of the political expansion.
When we think of mission, we think of the great text: Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This is certainly a very important verse in the context of missions and church mission statement. However, at times, there is the danger for us to isolate this passage from the rest of the scripture, thus missing the impact for which these verses are originally intended. This morning I want to study with you a parallel passage in Luke, 24:33-49. In this passage we want to discover what is the biblical basis for Missions.
This took place when Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. He explained and helped them understand how the content of the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms was pointing towards him. This is basically what he explained to the 2 disciples earlier that day. But now he connects it to the great commission, how his disciples were to proclaim the gospel message to all nations.
If you were there, what would you have heard? It must be like an OT survey. Beginning from which book? Genesis.
I. Missions is based on the truth that God created the heaven and the earth.
Jesus must have started with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This is a very familiar verse. So familiar that we may have taken it for granted, and forgotten its importance. What does it mean in the context of Luke 24?
1. Entire world is under God's jurisdiction.
Last week a young man wrote from HK how happy and excited he was after he put a computer together all by himself. When you’ve created that flower bed, or that pond, you take ownership over it. You have interest in it. God is interested in his entire creation and there is no exception. All are equal, with no exceptions. The entire world is under his jurisdiction.
Psalm 24:1,2, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.” Psalm 33:13,14, “The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,”. Since the entire creation is under his jurisdiction, he has authority over them and expects and requires them to obey him. For this reason, he hates the idols that man have made. As the creator, He wants man’s undivided loyalty to him at all times.
Since the entire world is under his jurisdiction. It explains the great commission both in the Luke passage and in Matthew 28:18,19. “….proclaim this to all nations….” And, “..all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…..make disciples of all nations.” Because he is the creator of heaven and earth, because he is interested in the entire creation, the world, therefore he asks his disciple to proclaim the message to all nations, to the entire world. And there is no exception to that.
2. The entire world is to be filled.
After verse 1, Jesus must have moved on to v28, “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” The first command given to man was to fill the earth. Soon after this, Adam and Eve rebelled against God. The rebellion got so bad that God punished man with the flood. What did God say to Noah after he came out of the flood? Genesis 8:17, “…be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” Again, it was to fill the earth. This went on for several generations. Then in 11:4, we see history repeats itself. “Come let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” What was their purpose of building a tower? Lest they be dispersed over the whole earth. God's desire and command was to fill the earth. And men’s response? We don’t want it. We don’t want to be dispersed over the face of the earth, we want to stay here. God's solution: he confused their language and they were forced to be dispersed, so they could fill the earth.
There was a similar situation in the book of Acts. After Pentecost, the church in Jerusalem was growing rapidly. Then Stephen was killed and persecution came upon the church. What happened afterward? The disciples started to leave Jerusalem and go to different cultures and geographical locations. God used persecution to disperse his people to all parts of the world.
II. Missions is based on God's heart for the entire world.
After Genesis 11, Jesus must have gone on to Genesis 12. God called Abraham and established a covenant relationship with him. He will be a great nation, all the families, all the nations, of the earth will be blessed because of him. Now God has chosen one person to form a nation. Yet the ultimate purpose was that all nations would be blessed through this one nation.
After Genesis, Jesus might have moved to Exodus. As the Israel nation was being established, a wall was raised to protect her from the other nations. You see, in other nations, their gods reflected the people of that nation. But Israel was different. Israel was to reflect her God. This is the reason God tightly protected Israel so she would not be contaminated by the other nations. But eventually, there will come a day when the wall will come down, and all nations will see the glory of her God.
From Exodus, Jesus moved to the historical books. In Joshua 4:23-26, “For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” Then 1 Samuel 17:45, “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,”
Its very clear in these historical books, God's desire is for all the nations to know that he exists and to see his power and to fear him.
We now move on to the Psalms. Probably Psalm 96 is a representative verse, “Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord , all the earth! Sing to the Lord , bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” It’s God's plan to have his glory be declared in all nations. All the earth will sing a new song to God.
Psalms then Jesus would move on to the Prophets. Even though the major portions
of the Prophets emphasized on
So, what would have the disciples learned from this OT survey? In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Therefore the entire world is under his authority, his jurisdiction. From the very beginning, it is his desire that the entire world will come to know his existence and glory. So, Jesus' urging his disciples to proclaim the good news to all nations, and the great commission in Matthew 28, are not isolated passages in the Bible, but a summary of God's redemptive history from the beginning to the end. Missions is God's initiative. It is his will to call all nations to come to him. His intent and interest is the entire world. He is the one who does the calling and the gathering of all nations.
Missions is anchored in divine activity. It is the work of God. Mission is God's work from the beginning to the end.
III. Missions is also based on human responsibility.
Missions is God's work. Yet in Luke 24:46-48, “and said to them, “Thu it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” What is the message? Christ's death and resurrection, repentance and forgiveness of sins. Who is to proclaim? The disciples, his followers. To where? All nations. Yes, missions is God's work, from the beginning to the end. Yet, he also gives us the task, the responsibility of telling others the good news of repentance and forgiveness of sins.
What does it mean to us? When we think of missions, it is important that we take a look at Jesus'' example. He preached the good news in his own city. He went from one city to another; from one culture to another cultural group. And if we look at the disciples, they basically were obedient to Jesus and followed his footsteps. They, too, preached in Jerusalem, then went to other cities and other cultural groups. This was repeated in the church history during the last 2000 years. And this is how the gospel message came to you and me.
We are to proclaim the good news right where we live, to other cities and cultural groups. Some will be in the States, other will go to different parts of the world. There must be a balance in our proclamation of the gospel message. As we focus on overseas countries this month, we must not forget our own city. As a result of this missions month, some of us may feel excited about missions work in other parts of the world. Yet we all need to ask ourselves a hard question, when was the last time we shared the gospel message with someone here? Other’s moon is always ‘rounder’ than mine. Out there is always more exciting. But right here is the real world for us at this time.
In the 1800’s, the European churches were zealous in sending out missionaries to the distant parts of the world. Yet they forgot their own homeland. In less than two centuries, they themselves had become a mission field. Let us not forget to tell others about Jesus Christ right where we are.
In today’s passage we learn that the great commission is really a summary of God's redemptive story. Missions is God's work from the beginning to the end. The entire world, all nations are his interest, under his jurisdiction. He is the one who calls and draws all nations to himself. It is his desire that all nations will come to know that he exists and is glorious and majestic.
Yet at the same time, he has also given us the task, the responsibility to proclaim the message of Jesus'’ death and resurrection; the message of repentance and forgiveness of sin. Some of us will stay here at home, God will call some others of us to go to another city, another country, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.