TODAY’S READING: Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9
Missions going is predicted on two essential comings. First, we must come to Jesus. In Mark 6:7, before Jesus missionized His disciples, sending them out two by two, He called them to Himself. Interestingly, Luke recorded this with corporate implication, writing: “Then He called His twelve disciples together” (9:1). The evangelization of the peoples of the world cannot be sustained outside of coming to Jesus together. We must always come to Him and we must always come together—before we go anywhere.
Missions will always be offensive. My wife and I sat with a consular officer from the embassy, sharing with her why we felt God brought us to Saudi Arabia. She listened politely and then told us: “It is my official responsibility to warn you that the consequences of your action could mean five to twenty years in prison.” She was not unkind; she just wanted to do her duty and to be sure we knew that missions (meaning preaching repentance and that Jesus is the only Savior) is unpopular and will be offensive. In fact, many will be offended at us (Mark 6:3). It is important to note Jesus’ reaction to others being offended: He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching, and He sent the disciples out two by two to preach that people should repent (v. 6–7, 12). We come to Jesus and we come together because gospel witnesses, if we are faithful, will be unpopular and we need one another to sustain the rejection from others.
Luke’s gospel puts Peter’s seminal confession of Christ on the heels of a series of dizzying events. In short order the disciples were sent out on a missions trip, they saw miracles, John was arrested and killed, 5,000 men were fed from one lunch, Jesus walked on water (Peter not so much), and then Jesus popped the less question: “Who do you say that I am?” Peter rose from his dip into the waves of unbelief to declare for all of us that Jesus is the Christ of God (Luke 9:20). Jesus was pleased and in the next breath reminds us all that the Son of Man is coming in His own glory. This is the third and ultimate coming. First, we come to Jesus. Then we come together so that we can be sent to the nations. Then the Christ, the Son of Man, will come in glory. Of course, as we wait eagerly for that day, God reminds all missionaries and followers that suffering must come before glory. The Christ must suffer, be killed, and be raised from the dead. We must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily. We must follow Him to nowhere, follow Him now, and follow Him with no exit plan (9:58–59, 62). Only after these revelations do we see Jesus in His own light and hear the Father boom, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (v. 35).
Jesus had only one purpose on earth and the Gospels must be read in His light. We must hear Him say, “Why I came, why you come to Me, why we come together, why I send you out in mission is simply so a redeemed remnant from every people group on earth may come to Me.”