Six weeks after the Resurrection, Luke records what is likely to have been Jesus’ last message to His disciples. Don’t rush past that, pause…this was his final teaching before ascending to heaven. Lean in closely, listen with rapt attention…pause then pause again. Even if you are familiar with these words, don’t treat them cavalierly for our Risen King and Savior is giving His last message:
Luke 24:44-47 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
What a teaching that must have been! He opened up their minds that they might understand the Scriptures. O, that He would open up our minds to understand the Scriptures as well. His final teaching involved two major themes, two of the Bible’s most preeminent and important:
- The Resurrection
- The Great Commission
The Resurrection– that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead…
My friends if the resurrection be true, it changes everything. If He did not rise, Christianity is a sham but He has risen and this changes everything and it validates the Word of God. And if the Resurrection is true, then the Great Commission is of the utmost importance.
The Great Commission– and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. From the Scriptures He taught them that good news must be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem…
All the nations in the original Greek is panta ta ethne, these are not geo-political states or nations like Argentina, China, Germany, Turkey and so on.
Nations are ethnic groupings, people groups, with distinct languages and cultures that make it hard for the Gospel to spread naturally from one people group to another. Nations are people groups like the Berber, the Pathan, the Dinka, the Navajo, the Fulani, the Keckhe, the Moa Che Shing, the Za Za, the Loba, the Dongxiang, the JumJum, the Choco, the Tarahumara…
According to Jesus, the Great Commission task of the Church is not only to win anddisciple individuals but to reach all the different people groups in the world, to see viable reproducing churches planted among all nations, all tribes, and all tongues. This means that our Great Commission goal is NOT primarily to try and keep up with or gain the population growth rate as awesome as that would be, but to make steady headway in reaching more “nations,” more people groups.
Now, where do you think Jesus went to in the Scriptures to give them this Great Commission teaching, to teach them that the Gospel must be preached to all nations? The Gospels? The Epistles? Of course not. They were not yet written.
He took them to the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. (Luke 24:44)
God’s missionary heart that beats for the nations didn’t just suddenly appear in the New Testament; it is also central to the Old Testament. Moreover, His final teaching was a Great Commission teaching. Make no mistake, our God, the only living and true God is a Missionary God.
As this Easter season comes to a close pay special attention to Jesus’ final teaching. Allow the reality of the resurrection, which validates the Word of God, compel you to be a part of His plan to make disciples of all nations, especially those that are still beyond the reach of the truth that death has been defeated by our Risen King and Lord.