Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. This is episode 175 of Missions on point. Thanks for joining us. We're in a series on missions insights from the New Testament. This time, we're going to be dealing with Christ's ministry to the nations. I trust that our little review of this will encourage your heart and help you to see Christ's ministry to the nations throughout the gospels.
Let's look at 12 markers or signposts that indicate Christ's foundational role in taking the gospel of salvation to all nations. This series of observations is not entirely comprehensive and it's not entirely chronological, but it mostly is. So first, let's look at John 1:29. This is a glimpse into the message of John the Baptizer, or we call him John the Baptist, and as Jesus approached him at the Jordan River, he says, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." That declarative statement is full of rich meaning both from the Old Testament and moving forward, that Jesus is the Lamb of God and he will take away the sin of the world.
We know from other scripture that this is not a statement of universal salvation, but representative salvation, people from all the world. And what an amazing introduction of the Lord Jesus Christ and his role synopsized in one statement. "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." That statement by itself is an incredibly powerful apologetic for witness to anyone, anywhere, from any background. It speaks of Christ's substitutionary atonement. It speaks of payment for sin which no other religion can do, and it speaks of this comprehensive representative impact on all the world.
Number two, let's look at John 4 and see this amazing encounter that Jesus has with a Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar. His disciples were amazed that Jesus would go through Samaria at all, and they were amazed again when they saw that Jesus had been talking with a woman, both as a female and as a foreigner. In their culture, Samaritans were to be avoided. But in fact, Jesus speaks with her and reveals who He is as the messiah. The Samaritan woman becomes one of the first evangelists, as it were, and encourages the whole town to come out and meet Jesus and then He stays there teaching them for another couple of days. This is a very big deal, and it is near the beginning of Christ's ministry that He gives this kind of emphasis to reaching Samaritans.
Number three, another story we learned from John 4 is Jesus healing the son of a court official. We don't know for sure that it was a gentile. It doesn't really say. It could have been a gentile. It could have been a jew as a court official. Yet if it is a gentile, it is another account of Jesus' intentional ministry to a non-jew.
Number four is Jesus's teaching in the synagogue at Nazareth. The story is found in Luke 4. The people of the synagogue want Jesus to do miraculous signs like He had done in other parts of their region. Jesus reads from Isaiah and the people are amazed at His teaching, and yet Jesus anticipates their questions by telling them that the Old Testament records the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath, how God blessed the widow's family because of Elijah. He also mentions Elisha and Naaman the leper being healed, and he said there were many people like this during the drought time in Israel of Elijah's time and many lepers in Elisha's time, but God chose to not only heal or provide for those people, those individuals, He selected that for inclusion in the Old Testament to indicate His mercy and grace to foreigners. The people of Nazareth didn't like that at all.
The fifth observation is about the inclusiveness in Christ's teaching that is ethnic inclusiveness because he speaks in these universal kinds of terms about whoever believes in Him, that He gives life to the world. It says whoever believes in Him may have eternal life and that the world might be saved through Him. He says, "I am the light of the world." These are repeated many times in His teaching, whether to individuals or to His disciples and small groups or to larger groups. Jesus continually goes on record that the impact of His life and ministry and ultimately His death and resurrection are going to be worldwide.
Number six is almost just a footnote in the span of Jesus' ministry toward the end of his life. In John 12:20, it says, "The Greeks were seeking Jesus," and Jesus says, now that the Greeks, that is non-Jews, gentile Greeks are seeking me, now is the time to lift the lid and remove the cover. This is toward the end of my life. He says in John 12:23, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."
Observation number seven comes from Matthew 8. It's about the centurion servant being healed. This story is notable for two reasons. One is that it is the centurion, a roman centurion, a gentile who is seeking Christ and seeking Christ for the sake of healing his servant. But the centurion had faith to know that Jesus did not have to personally come to his house in order to heal, and that was amazing. In fact, it was very commendable by Jesus. Jesus says, "Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness." He heals the centurion servant at a distance just by his word, so Jesus is commending the faith of this gentile as a believer and saying that many from the east and the west will come to the kingdom of God.
Number eight in our list is that Jesus sends out his disciples. This happened no less than three different occasions. We see it in Matthew 10 and Luke 9, 10 and 22. The first three of those in Matthew 10, Luke 9 and Luke 10, there were primarily to Jewish towns. But later, Jesus prophesies before his crucifixion that they will be sent out and go to all towns everywhere, and that they are to prepare themselves for that kind of missionary work in proclaiming the gospel in these towns.
Number nine is when Jesus goes to visit the district of Tyre and Sidon in Matthew 15, and he comes into contact with a Canaanite woman, clearly a gentile. This lady is asking Jesus, begging actually, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, son of David, my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon." They have this really interesting interaction together recorded in Matthew 15, but Jesus does in the end, heal her daughter instantly. Again, the two notable things about this narrative is number one, that Jesus was intentionally going into an area where He would have a lot more contact with gentile people in the area of Tyre and Sidon, and that He does entertain a conversation with this gentile woman, and even though it's kind of spicy in terms of the cultural aspects of it, Jesus does heal this gentile woman's daughter at her request.
Number nine is toward the close of Christ's earthly ministry. We see the story in Mark 11 also found in the other gospels, but verse 17, Jesus is cleansing the temple and he says, "My house shall be a house of prayer for all the nations." This term, all the nations or all nations, is certainly comprehensive in its scope, and we've tracked it in other episodes of Missions on Point throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. But here it is at the climax of Christ's ministry, Jesus reminding all His hearers, including the Jewish leaders, that the temple was to be a house of prayer for all the nations.
Number 10, also in Mark 13:10, we see that the gospel must first be proclaimed to all the nations. It's the similar kind of phrasing that's used in Matthew 24:14. Jesus is talking about times in the future and what some of the conditions will be on earth at the close of the ages, but first, the gospel must be proclaimed to all the nations.
Number 11 is this interesting little incident in Luke 17 where Jesus heals 10 lepers, and one of them is a Samaritan. Jesus remarks that it's notable that only the Samaritan who was cleansed came back to say thank you.
Number 12, last but not least on our list, is the Great Commission and those passages that we link together with the Great Commission. Matthew 28. It says, "All nations." Mark 16, "All the world and all creation." Luke 24, "All nations." John, "Into the world," and the world is emphasized in Christ's last instructions before His crucifixion to His apostles and His high priestly prayer. Then in Acts, we see this phrase that the gospel should be proclaimed in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Our Lord Jesus Christ is consistent throughout his whole ministry, from his first announcement as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, to this final command we call the Great Commission or the Great Mandate to the church to reach all nations. Jesus is inclusive and His ministry continues to reinforce that God in Christ has a heart to reach all the nations with His salvation for His glory.
There are so many other things I could say, but I hope that this just gives you a taste of what you can find in your own Bible reading. Perhaps this will open your eyes to see it a little more clearly as you're reading through the gospels in particular about Christ's life and His ministry to the nations.
Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at Propempo.com and missioserve.org. We are so thankful for those who support us, enabling us to produce this podcast. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.
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