TODAY’S READING: Matthew 9; Luke 7
Miracles are missions driven. In the classic healing of the paralytic in Matthew 9, Jesus asked: “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?” The answer is that it’s easier to say “your sins are forgiven” because no one can prove that—except Jesus. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins… Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Jesus did a miracle to prove He is God. Miracles underline the passion of God to forgive the sins of the repentant of every people group on earth. Miracles are so that gospel news goes into all the land (Matt. 9:26). Miracles show that Jesus is the Son of David and are intended to spread the news in all that country (vv. 27, 31).
Fasting is missions driven. Jesus told His critics “the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then [My disciples] will fast” (v. 15). This is the single motivation for fasting: We want Jesus to return, we yearn for His return as a hungry body yearns for food, we are hungry for Jesus to come back. Jesus will come back when the gospel of the Kingdom is preached to every people group (24:14).
Authority is missions driven. The Roman (probably Italian) centurion told Jesus: “For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say, ‘Go,’ and he goes” (Luke 7:8). I wager Jesus thought about this European soldier when He gave the great commission: “All authority has been given to me… Go.” It’s the same language and the same spirit. The authority systems of the world are set up for one reason—and it’s not global peace. It’s peace with God. It’s representatives of every nation reconciled to their authority and gathered around the throne. Whatever authority exists on earth is ultimately there to serve God’s missionary agenda.
Delays are missions driven. I think John the Baptist has been misunderstood. John knew exactly who Jesus was: the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. When John sent the question to Jesus from prison, he framed it in missionary messianic language: “Are you the Coming One?” Single-eyed, no-nonsense John was about to die, and he wanted to know when the global agenda would kick in. Jesus assured John that all was well, the gospel was being preached, the goal remained the same. John was great because from beginning to end he understood the global scope of the mission and with Jesus he was dedicated to it, no matter what anyone thought.
Compassion is missions driven. Jesus went everywhere preaching missions, that the kingdom is coming and it will include all peoples (Matt. 9:35). When Jesus saw the multitudes, He had one singular compassionate reaction: to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send hardworking missionaries into all the earth (v. 38). We cannot claim to be the compassionate people of God if our deepest prayer and hardest work is not focused on the missionary heart of God—that all unreached peoples everywhere would have access to the gospel because God answered our prayer that He would send missionaries.