“…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 (NIV)
As I was growing up one of the TV programmes that I liked to watch was Mission Impossible. It depicted the missions of a team of secret government agents known as the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) used for covert missions against dictators, evil organisations, and crime lords.
Most episodes began with the leader of the IMF getting the assignment from a hidden tape recorder and an envelope of photos and information that explained the mission. The tape always ended with ‘Your mission Jim, should you decide to accept it, is…’ followed by ‘This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim.’ Then smoke would rise from the tape, and the instructions would be destroyed. We then saw how this impossible mission was achieved by these secret agents.
Following Jesus’s death and resurrection, and shortly before his ascension, he gave a mission to his followers: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….” (Matthew 28:19). The problem was Jesus’s disciples weren’t a team of secret agents; they were a group of frightened men hiding away for fear of the Jews. They didn’t really believe what Jesus had said since they weren’t waiting for his resurrection on the third day; rather, discouraged, they went back to their old jobs. How was this mission impossible going to be possible?
Let me suggest three things that made the difference.
First, they had an encounter with the risen Lord which filled them with great joy (John 20:20), following which Jesus gave them their assignment: “…As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (v.21).
Secondly, the power of the Holy Spirit would come upon them to lead, guide, and strengthen them in this task: “…repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem… but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:47, 49). Witnessing for Jesus to the ends of the earth could only take place after the Holy Spirit came upon them in power (Acts 1:8).
Then finally, there was the promise that wherever the disciples went with the gospel message, Jesus would be with them: “…surely I am with you always…” (Matthew 28:20).
With these three things the impossible became possible.
We too have to carry on the Great Commission to the ends of the earth, and like the disciples, we will only be able to complete that task in so far as we believe that Jesus rose from the dead; we witness in the power of the Spirit, not in our strength, and we know and believe that Jesus is with us to the very end of the age. (v.20). With these three things in place, we can all be a part of God’s Possible Missions Force.
Father, may we participate with you, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in taking the good news about salvation through Jesus to the ends of this earth. Help us to begin in our communities, as you provide opportunity. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Study by Barry Robinson
About the writer:
Barry Robinson is a minister in Grace Communion International and Regional Pastor for Southern England.
Grace Communion International Camberwell
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