Opportunity of a Lifetime
Since Resurrection Sunday, we have been following Jesus, seeing His post-resurrection appearance to His disciples, and listening to His words.
As we saw last week, Jesus had a very definite agenda for this time. There were crucial concepts and specific understanding that Jesus wanted to communicate to His disciples.
And now, the end of His time on earth is almost here — 40 days elapse from Resurrection to His ascension. Ten days later, the disciples will experience what Jesus meant by “being clothed with power” by the Holy Spirit.
The mission of Jesus is almost finished. He is in the process of delegating the future of His accomplishments to the disciples. Each of the gospel accounts include a rendering of this “mission delegation.” We refer to Matthew’s account as the “Great Commission” and in Matthew 28.16-20 we read—
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This has always been God’s pattern of operation — for He considers humanity to be His partners.
When God completed His creation masterpiece, He entrusted to Adam the responsibility to administer and steward it for God’s glory.
When God delivered Israel from slavery and brought them to the Promised Land, He entrusted to Israel the revelation of His glory and His ways so that the nations would know that He was the One-and-Only God.
This is God’s pattern: complete His exclusive and supernatural work in a way that reveals His glory and His purposes and then entrust it to humanity with His continuing support. This was, in fact, the manner in which Jesus carried out His mission —
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Now Jesus is handing off His mission and completed work to the disciples. Unlike Adam and Israel who utterly failed, the disciples will be extraordinary in their obedience and effectiveness as Christ-followers and Christ-witnesses. When the apostles completed their mission, they handed off responsibility to men like Timothy and Titus and women like Phoebe and Priscilla.
And so that pattern continues through the centuries to us here today: one generation of witnesses handing off the mission to their successors. Looking back, we can see how some of our predecessors have done—
The Moravians of the 18th century, like the apostles, were exemplary in their Christ-mission responsibility — initiating and sustaining 100 years of 24/7 prayer for the spread of the gospel and considering no cost too great for “the honor due the Lamb.”
In the 19th century, the Cambridge Seven, impacted by the ministry of a former shoe salesman named Dwight L. Moody, left their privileged positions, sports careers, and financial wealth to impact nations and continents like China, India, and Africa. The Cambridge Seven included men like Hudson Taylor and C.T. Studd. One historian summed up the life and work of Hudson Taylor with these words—
No other missionary in the nineteen centuries since the Apostle Paul has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematized plan of evangelizing a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor.
C.T. Studd left his sports career as an All-England Cricketeer (our equivalent as an All-Pro), and after spending time in China and India, C.T. Studd and his wife determined that God wanted him to go to Africa while she would remain in England to raise support for the work. He authored the words that are familiar to many Christ-followers: “Only one life twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Four young men praying in the YMCA located on Franklin and Cathedral Streets in Baltimore would ignite the early 20th century Student Volunteer Movement, resulting in 100,000 university students responding to the mission of taking Christ to the nations.
Each generation and each Christ-follower has this Christ-mission entrusted to him or her. It is truly the opportunity of a lifetime— the eternal destiny of everyone in the world literally depends on us going and telling them the message of salvation through Christ, and nothing any of us do will have greater worth or legacy than how we carried out this mission of telling everyone everywhere the Good News about Jesus!