The mission of every believer is to GO and MAKE disciples of Jesus (Matt 28:18-20).
This was Jesus’ command to his apostles right before he ascended into heaven.
In this moment, standing on the hillside with them he said to them, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Jesus was sending his disciples out from that place as his witnesses, with his message, and in his power. They would be the ones that Jesus would use to begin to advance the gospel into the world. And because of their obedience to this command in the first century, the gospel is still advancing today in the 21st century.
Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). Nothing can stop the mission of God to bring the gospel to every nation, tribe, language, and people (Rev 5:9).
This command that Jesus gave his disciples to go into Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, was not just for them in the first century. It is for us in 2018.
What does it look like for us to go into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth?
After all, we live in the suburbs of Richmond. As witnesses of Jesus Christ today, what does this command look like? Specifically, what does it look like in the day-to-day grind of life? To understand this implication, let’s consider what it means for us when Jesus said that we are his witnesses in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem – your immediate context (and maybe your most difficult)
Jerusalem was where the disciples were in the present moment. It was the capital city. It was not necessarily their hometown, because many of them were from Galilee, but it was where the Jewish people worshiped in the temple and had Passover.
Therefore, the people they would see in Jerusalem were those that they knew, people that watched them grow up, and watched how they worshiped. It might have been their families, friends, relatives, and neighbors. It was the place likely filled with the people that they saw the most often and the people that knew them the best.
“It was the place likely filled with the people that they saw the most often and the people that knew them the best”
Most of all, it was the people in Jerusalem who rejected and killed Jesus. These people already knew a lot about Jesus. They actually think they are saved. Have you tried to share Jesus with someone who thinks they are already saved and knows a lot about Jesus? It’s not easy.
Because of all these reasons, Jerusalem might have been their hardest group to reach. It certainly seemed that way considering the difficulty they had: annoying people (Acts 4:2), being threatened (4:21), being arrested (5:18), being beaten black and blue (5:40), and being stoned (7:60).
Isn’t it interesting that sometimes the toughest people we are called to share Jesus with are often the ones that we see the most—the ones who know us best? It’s the people that we are around every day.
It is your parents, teammates, classmates, co-worker, next door neighbor, your boss. It’s your wayward child, your friend that has the mouth of a sailor, your atheist cousin, your best friend who knows your past mistakes.
This is your Jerusalem. The hardest people to reach are right in front of you.
Even so, Jesus Christ, your King, has sent you to them. Specifically, you. We love to be bold and go to another state to share the gospel, another country to share the gospel, but we are scared to death to share Christ with our best friend or our sister or our co-worker or our dad.
We love the thought of going to the ends of the earth with the gospel, yet we are unwilling to go to Jerusalem. We need to reevaluate our desire to go on a mission trip, if we are unwilling to go to our neighbor.
I am certainly not trying to squelch anyone’s desire to go on a mission trip; I just long for us to examine our hearts to see if we are missing one of the clearest commands of Jesus—to live sent out to Jerusalem before going to the ends of the earth. The disciples spent time sharing Jesus in Jerusalem before going out to Judea and Samaria, and then the nations (Acts 1:1 - 8:2).
Let us follow their example in obedience to Christ and let us live sent out for Christ every day. Jesus doesn’t just send you out as his witness when you go on a mission trip. He is sending you out every day to be his witness. He is sending you to your immediate, and often, hardest context. Therefore, let us live sent. For this is the mission of Jesus to which he has called you, friend.
“As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” John 20:21
Let us build our lives around this verse. Let’s go to our Jerusalem. Let’s trust in the power of the Holy Spirit to give us the boldness, the words, the opportunities—because he promised he will. And let’s dive in headfirst and watch the power of God in the gospel blow us away.
Who is one person in your Jerusalem that you need to reach with the gospel? Will you pray and ask God to give you an opportunity to share Jesus with that person? Then dive in. Trust Jesus. Be fearless because Jesus is worth it!