“A God-centered theology has to be a missionary theology.”

John Piper

TODAY’S READING: Matthew 1; Luke 2

In the gospels, the King of kings steps from His heavenly throne and models the character of His reign by living among His subjects on earth. The Old Testament may be summarized as revealing the mission of God as its focused on establishing an eternal kingdom and including all nations in that kingdom. “The New Testament begins by pointing out that Jesus is ‘the son of David, the son of Abraham’ (Matt. 1:1), identifying Him both as the heir of the promised eternal Kingdom and as the promised seed of blessing to the nations. This is the historical clarification necessary for understanding the dual Great Commission themes of kingdom authority and all nations (Matt. 28:18–20).”[1] Thus, the opening verse of Matthew is the organizing verse of all Scripture. It summarizes the Old Testament and sets the direction of the New: King Jesus shall reign forever, and in His eternal kingdom will be every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.

Lest there be any doubt, Matthew, writing to Jews, lists five foreign women in the genealogy of Jesus, including the prostitutes Tamar and Rahab, the widow Ruth, the adulterer Bathsheba, and concludes with a young teenager named Mary. Matthew’s opening news anticipates the closing call that the good news be preached among all peoples. The people that Jesus will save from their sins (Matt. 1:21) are obviously then the peoples of earth, not just one favored nation. The rest of Matthew (and the rest of the Gospels) build on this wonderful anticipation: Jesus is the eternal King who will reign over all the peoples of the earth and of His kingdom there will be end and no stain. God indeed is with us (v. 23).

Luke’s account also leaves no room for doubt that baby Jesus is the King who will reign universally. From the glorious presence of the Lord the angels announced the good news that shall be great joy to all people (Luke 2:10). God will be glorified and peace will be made with men of goodwill, irrespective of race or location (v. 14). We must keep these promises in our heart (v. 19) and never lose sight of the missionary essence of the Bible as we read the New Testament.

Early on, Jesus knew He must be about His Father’s business (v. 49). That business was to die for the sins of the whole world, not to be an impressive young scholar. I can imagine Jesus at 12 talking with His elders about the majestic and marvelous plan of God to include all nations in His kingdom. From the beginning of the New Testament, the focus is on God’s mission to save all peoples. From the announcement and birth of Jesus, the heavenly and prophetic message heralded that all peoples of earth be saved. From His childhood, Jesus was focused on the Father’s business—the redemption of all peoples unto Himself. From Matthew to Revelation, the New Testament has a single eye: King Jesus and His plan to save a remnant from all peoples unto Himself. May we have that same singular vision, hope, and joy.

[1] John V. York. Missions in the Age of the Spirit. Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 2001. 26.

Prayer Focus: Morocco

Today’s Unreached People Group: Berber, Rif
Population: 1,559,000
Language: Tarifit
Primary Religion: Islam
Evangelical: 0.01%
Estimated Workers Needed: 31

[Source: Joshua Project]

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