…repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. – Luke 24:47
Luke closes out his first letter to his friend, Theophilus, with the words of Jesus spoken to the apostles prior to His ascension. In that passage we read that Jesus opens the apostles’ eyes of understanding so they can get the message. That message was that Jesus had to endure all that was written in the OT concerning Him as the suffering servant. Among those things Jesus mentions is that the message of repentance and remission of sins must be preached to the whole world but starting with Jerusalem.
Although the Great Commission is given in Matthew and Mark, Luke accounts for it here in this verse. Jesus tells us that Good News is to be preached to all nations (people) and that the apostles were to start there in Jerusalem. Now, we don’t live in Jerusalem, so it seems strange to us when we read such a verse. However, if we look at it closely and relate it to our lives, we get the full picture of Jesus’ message to the apostles.
The Good News is not something that is to be containerized in the hearts of those that receive it. What we have to bear in mind is that God’s gifts are not just for self-edification. All gifts from God are to be shared with others: spiritual gifts, ecclesiastical gift, and ministry gifts. Jesus commands us to preach repentance and forgiveness to all people. Then He gives us the Holy Spirit to empower us to do all the work God’s given us. The ecclesiastical and ministry gifts in Paul’s letters really exemplify this idea where he says,
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.
Jesus intended the preaching of the Good News to be for all people, everywhere. Why? Because He loved the world [so much] that He gave His life [for the remission of sins of many] that whoever believes on Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Who gives you the right, authority, or power to hoard the greatest message ever given to mankind? You’re a steward of all God’s given you. You are to share your witness with others and lead them to the cross where the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sins and show them the need for salvation.
Your pastor has been desperately working to equip you with the biblical knowledge and skills you need to get out among the people around you and share your witness. You have all that you need right inside you to do the job – God the Holy Spirit. Trust Him to lead you and guide you into all truth. He will give you the words you need in times of witnessing.
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus pointed out that the message of repentance and salvation would begin in Jerusalem? Granted the city wasn’t their hometown (nor ours), but it was the capital of their nation and the center of the world. We can look at Jerusalem as though it were our hometown. We need to start right here in our backyards, neighborhoods, and places of work as sites where we can share the word of our testimony with the lost.You may not be a part of the clergy, but you are a minister, one who serves.
Jesus, Paul, James, and Moses all told us that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. What kind of love does God have for us that he died for our sins? Self-sacrificing love! Are you willing to lay down your life for someone else: family, friend, coworker, or neighbor? Jesus tells us there is no greater love than this. Loving your neighbor as yourself fulfills all the OT had to say. You can start doing so by telling your neighbor your testimony and how God changed your life and saved you from sin, hell, and yourself and gave you eternal life instead.
Father, raise up a group of people who will stand strong and not be ashamed of You or Your Word! Help me to train up men and women who will heed the call to preach the Good News of repentance and forgiveness of sins to all people everywhere. Too many of our brethren think that they can’t do it because they are not an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher. What they miss is that You tell ALL of us to get out there in the highways and byways and compel people into Your kingdom. We know from Your Word that at the end of days the angels will cast forth the fishing nets to catch all fish. The good ones will be kept while the bad ones are cast out. As you’ve made me a fisher of men, help me to train others to be fishers of men. It’s by the power of Your Spirit that this is done and not in our abilities. Thank You for loving us enough to pay the redemption price for our souls. We love You and will do the work of the evangelist. In Jesus’ name, Amen.