Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.

Thank you for listening to episode 176 of Missions on Point. We're talking about Mission's insights from the New Testament and in specific this last bit of Christ's life, Christ's last days, his resurrection and ascension. What we're doing in this series is simply taking some key observations or insights from the scriptures which support and give us help in understanding the development of Missions.

Today, let's take a look at Matthew, chapters 24 through 28, Mark 13 through 16, Luke 22 through 24, John chapter 12 verse 20 through chapter 21, and then finally Acts 1-8, that ascension passage in the beginning of Acts.

So beginning in Matthew, let's look at some key texts. Matthew chapter 24 is the beginning of the Olivet discourse. Christ is teaching his disciples and those listening about trouble and persecution in the future by the nations and through the nations. So there is a sense in which the nations are included in this big picture of what's going on all around the world. In verse 14, there's this almost startling statement by Christ and it says this, "This Gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come."

This statement includes all the key ingredients that we would call Missions, the Gospel, proclamation, "Throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations," and then he has this eschatological statement, "And then the end will come." There are some people who believe that this has to happen in order for the end to come. What they mean is that if we don't do our job to reach all the nations, the second coming of Christ won't happen. It surely will be fulfilled, because Christ said it, but the problem we have hermeneutically is to know what the end is talking about when it says, "The end will come."

Note that the nations are ethnos, just like in the great commission, it's all the ethnicities, ethnic peoples of the earth, not political nations. What we find in these last chapters describing Christ's ministry in the last days and weeks before his crucifixion and resurrection is that this theme of the nations or the whole world and the proclamation of the Gospel increases in intensity more and more to the very end just before his ascension, when he gives the great commission.

In Matthew 24 verse 30, there's this theme again that all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of judgment. Moving on to chapter 25, verse 32. It says, "Before him will be gathered all the nations." It's speaking of when Christ returns and he sits in judgment and he's going to discern and decide who are the sheep and who are the goats, who is accepted in the kingdom and who is going to judgment.

The Olivet discourse ends and Chapter 26 begins with a narrative of the plot to kill Jesus, but then Jesus is anointed in Bethany in the house of Simon and an unnamed woman comes to anoint him with a very expensive ointment and his disciples object. He says in chapter 26 verse 13, "Truly I say to you, wherever this Gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her." We will see this story told again in the Gospel of Mark, but the point is to recognize how this encapsulates the whole concept of missions. The gospel is proclaimed in the whole world.

We've got to see that Jesus is reinforcing this theme over and over again as he walks steadily toward the cross and the resurrection and ascension. The disciples understand this. Matthew chapter 27 tells the graphic story of Jesus's trial before Pilate, a Gentile ruler. It tells how the Jewish leaders rejected Christ and forced Pilate's hand to turn him over for crucifixion. And of course, he is crucified and dies on the cross.

In chapter 28, the first stories of the resurrection have instruction to his disciples where Jesus says, "Don't be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me." So even after the resurrection there's a sense in which Jesus makes Galilee of the Gentiles, his headquarters before ascending to heaven. Then we have the record of these last words of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew, which is the capstone of Jesus's teaching as he leaves earth to go to heaven. "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age."

Let's move on to Mark chapters 13 through 16. There is a parallel teaching similar to the Olivet discourse. In chapter 13, "Nation will rise against nation." In verse 10, it says, "And the Gospel must first be proclaimed to all the nations." Here are these key elements, again, Gospel, proclamation to all nations. In verse 27, "He will gather his elect from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven." This theme in Jesus's teaching is about all nations, "To the ends of the earth," comprehensive in touching someone from every tongue and tribe, political and ethnic entity.

In Mark 14 verse 9, we see again this statement about the woman who anointed him, "Wherever the Gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." Although it's true that these are parallel passages, it's also true that these are Holy Spirit selected and inspired to be in our Bible and continue to hammer home the truth of the Mission's activity of proclaiming the gospel in the whole world.

Let's move on to the Gospel of Luke, chapters 22 through 24. There's not really a lot in chapters 22 and 23, however, there is this little teaching of Christ that, Jesus will be sending them out to minister in his name. Now, the sending, which is the same word for apostle, a sent one, says, "Take your money bag with you." It costs something to go and do this missional work.

The capstone for Missions in the book of Luke is chapter 24, and there are these two stories back to back, which we've highlighted in our episode on the Great Commission. Jesus is talking with the men on the road to Emmaus and he says, "And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself," and the second part of that, in another story, chapter 24, verses 45 through 48 say this, "He opened their minds to understand the scriptures and said to them, thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

So again, we have the articulation of the gospel, the proclamation, it comes from the scriptures and it goes to all nations. Now, let's look at the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John is unique, it is not one of what we call the synoptics, the other three, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it was written much later. And John includes a lot of information about these latter days of Christ's life, and I pick up the beginning of that as chapter 12 verse 20, see if you can pick it up.

"Now, among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks, so these came to Philip who was from Bethesda in Galilee and asked him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus, and Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me and where I am there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the father will honor him.""

In this and the following section, Jesus and the Father make it clear that this is a turning point and his disciples understood that he was going to die. It's fascinating because in the other Gospels, Jesus kept saying, "Now is not my time. The time has not yet come. My time has not yet come." And here in John 12:20 and following, Jesus says, "Now my time has come." What was the precipitating factor? Not only was Israel trying to understand Christ, but now Greeks were coming, that is Gentiles or at least Greek proselytites. People were coming to Christ and Jesus says, "Now that they are coming, now is the time for it all to come to its fulfillment." Jesus went on to say in verse 32, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."

He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. He says later in verse 46, "I have come into the world as light so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness." That phrase, "Whoever believes in me," is open to anyone. He's very consistent throughout the book of John to say, "Whoever." In John's record of the details of the Last Supper, the time in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus's high priestly prayer, we see many, many references to Jesus's awareness of the comprehensive nature of his coming and the message of the gospel.

In chapter 13 verse 35, he says, "By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." In chapter 14, verse 6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." In chapters 14 through 17, Jesus uses the term, "World," 35 times. It's not always in a missional sense or in a positive sense, it's about persecution as well as good things, but 35 times means that Jesus has a persistent awareness of the impact of his life and ministry on the whole world, the world is in view. In chapter 16, verse 8, he's telling about the coming of the Holy Spirit and he says, "The helper will convict the world concerning sin." In the high priestly prayer, he prays, "As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." Verse 21, "So that the world may believe that you have sent me." Verse 23, "So that the world may know that you sent me and love them even as you loved me."

There is this purpose and intent that the world would know, that the world would believe and believers are sent out into the world. He repeats the thought in chapter 20 verse 21, "As the Father has sent me even so I am sending you." It might make sense to stop here at the end of the gospels, however the Holy Spirit through the author Luke, gives us the book of Acts in which there is this last scene, apparently the actual very last scene, because the description is such that as the disciples watched, Jesus was lifted up into heaven. We see it in Acts chapter 1 verses 6 and following.

"So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority, 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." And when he had said these things as they were looking on, he was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold two men stood by them in white robes and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."" It was as if they were saying, "Gentlemen, get on with it."

Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at and 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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