The Great Commission

Matthew 2819 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 28:16–20 (ESV)

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus prepared to depart this world and return to the Father, he left his disciples with instructions. He told them that they were to “make disciples of all nations.” They were to accomplish this through “baptizing” and “teaching.” When we read these words, we can summarize the task given to the disciples as evangelism and discipleship. Jesus used the term “baptizing” to summarize bringing an unbeliever into the faith. Baptism is the picture of that. Jesus then used the word “teaching” to describe the ongoing growth of the believer as they learn the word of God and how to live in the world.

As believers today, our task remains the same. We are called to proclaim the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ to a lost world. In doing so, we will see unbelievers saved. As unbelievers are saved, it is then our responsibility to continue to teach the word of God so that new believers can grow to maturity. These twin callings are the core of the Christian life. May we go into the world as the people of Christ and proclaim the gospel.

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Our Helper

Acts 18 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 15:26–27 (ESV)

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus promised his followers that he was not leaving them alone. They would receive a Helper, who was the Holy Spirit. The Helper would be with the disciples as they bore witness to all Jesus said and did. The Holy Spirit would equip and empower the disciples to take the message of Christ to the world. Jesus reminded the disciples of this important truth in the moments before he left this earth and ascended into heaven. We find Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

All believers have been called to be witnesses. We are to go into the world and proclaim the gospel. This proclamation includes telling the world of all that Jesus said and did with a central focus on his death and resurrection. This is an overwhelming responsibility, but we have not been left alone. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, was a promise to all believers. He continues to work in our lives today to empower and prepare us for all that God desires from us. It is not in our own power that we go into the world, but in the power of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.

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The Harvest Is Plentiful

Luke 102 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 10:1–12 (ESV)

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus sent out seventy-two of his disciples to preach concerning the kingdom of God. He gave his disciples instructions about how they were supposed to minister. They took a message of peace for all who would receive it, but for those who would not, it would be “more bearable on that day for Sodom” than for those who rejected the disciples’ message.

One of the things that Jesus told his disciples was that the harvest was plentiful, but the laborers were few. The message of the kingdom needed to go to the world, but Jesus was only sending our thirty-six teams of two! How was the message going to reach all who needed to hear it? Jesus urged his disciples to pray for more workers.

We live in a world where there are still many people ready and in need of the gospel message, but there simply are not enough Christians going to them with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We often neglect our responsibility to reach our neighbors and we may also fail to respond to God’s call on us to go to another land as missionaries. There are many reasons why we have many in need of hearing about Jesus, but so few going into the world with the gospel. Whatever the reason, we need to ask if we are doing our part and then we need to commit ourselves to prayer. Pray that God would send more workers into the fields because the harvest is still plentiful.

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Proclaiming Jesus with Zeal

Isaiah 354–5 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Mark 7:31–37 (ESV)

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Parallel Text: Matthew 15:29-31

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was traveling in the region of the Decapolis, the ten cities. This region was largely Gentile in population and points us to the fact that Jesus did not only come to minister to and save the Jewish people, but came as the Savior of all of mankind.

In these verses, Jesus again performed a miracle of healing a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. When the crowds saw what Jesus did, they were “astonished beyond measure” (v. 37). The comment of the crowd as quoted in verse 37 points back to Isaiah 35:1-10, which states that there would be a day when God would work in a special way among his people. In that day, the blind, deaf, lame, and mute would be healed. In Jesus, that day had dawned. Jesus attempted to quiet the fast-spreading news of his miracle-working, but the people were talking. The news traveled far and wide and the crowds were growing larger and larger as people came with their sick and to see who this man, Jesus, was.

It is interesting to see the zeal of the crowds in spreading the news of Jesus. No one could keep them quiet! How wonderful it would be in our day if we shared the same passion. What would this world be like if believers everywhere were as ready to share the Good News of Jesus, the one who brings salvation to all? Yet, most believers are all too ready to remain quiet and speak little of Jesus. Let us not remain quiet, but let us tell the world of the One who brings life and healing to all who call on him!

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Pearls before Pigs

black hog prone lying on soil under shade of tree

Photo by Magda Ehlers on


Reading the Word

Matthew 7:6 (ESV)

6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This is a short passage and may seem a little harsh. Who are the “dogs” and pigs” Jesus is talking about and what are the “pearls” we should hold onto? The dogs that Jesus refers to are not domesticated pets, but wild scavengers. Pigs, under Old Testament law (Deuteronomy 14:8), were considered unclean and were not to be eaten by the Jewish people. So, when Jesus speaks of dogs and pigs here, he is speaking of unholy and unclean people who have no regard for what is sacred.

When Jesus speaks of pearls, he is speaking of that which is most precious. Of course, that which is most precious to Jesus’ followers is the message of the kingdom itself (cf. Matthew 13:45-46).

Does this mean we should not give the gospel message to some? No, but it does mean that we need to be discerning about when we do share. If our sharing is only going to result in the mocking of or trampling of the gospel in mud by the person we are sharing with (like some of the arguments people get into on social media), we are better not to share. There may be a better opportunity with the same person later when they are truly ready to listen and consider rather than attack. We are called to go into the world and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, but let us pray for discernment in how we do that and let us also pray that God would prepare hearts to hear the truth.

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I Will Speak before Kings

architecture bay building castle

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Reading the Word

Psalm 119:41–48 (ESV)

41 Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise; 42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word. 43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules. 44 I will keep your law continually, forever and ever, 45 and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts. 46 I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, 47 for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. 48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Boldness. This is the theme of these verses. The psalmist writes of speaking boldly to the world concerning the word of God. He will answer the one who taunts and he will speak before kings.

Too many of us are reluctant to share the word of God with those we know. Why is this? Is it because we do not believe it ourselves? Is it because we do not trust God’s word? Or, is it because we do not think of it as highly as we ought? We do not cherish it and love it as the very thing that gives us life and hope in this world. May we grow in our love for God’s word and may we proclaim it to a world that needs it more than ever.

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