witnesses-for-jesus

We have been taking a look at the many times during His earthly ministry when Jesus told others to Not tell about the great works He was doing; many were instructed to keep the things He had done secret. I think we have all arrived at some very reasonable reasons why Jesus issued these instructions over the course of a couple of weeks.

It also seems clear that, at some point, Jesus changed this instruction and then commanded people to go out and tell as many as they could. Two questions seem to arise: 1. Why did this change, and 2. Who was instructed to go tell?

What changed?

Obviously, the biggest thing that changed was the resurrection. This event established clearly just who Jesus was; it established clearly that He was, in fact, The Messiah. Before, seemingly to avoid too much attention on only His miracles, Jesus commanded that these things sometimes be kept quiet. Now, it was time to tell the world.

Peter clearly revealed the nature of who Jesus was during his famous sermon on the day of Pentecost:

Acts 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.

Acts 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Jesus, appearing to some disciples after His resurrection, taught them that they now knew all of Him they needed to know and that their teaching was complete:

Luke 24:44-48 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then 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

His instructions soon became explicit to those who followed Him.

At the Last Supper Jesus informed those present:

John 15:27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

At His Ascension, He told them:

Acts 1:8 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.

So, we can clearly see that Jesus’ instructions changed; now His followers were instructed to tell His message far and wide, and to everybody. Only one question remains.

Who is supposed to go? Are all believers to be witnesses?

Yes.

That seems simple, right? Well perhaps it is, yet to some it is not. Allow me to explain. There seems some thoughts out there about just who is to tell the world about Jesus. This is not going to be deep theology here, just some simple thoughts as revealed in God’s Word to us.

Some say, that the Great Commission was only delivered to the Apostles. In other words, when Jesus said these words:

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inb 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.”

that He was only speaking to those directly assembled with Him, and that the instructions do not apply us today. Well, yes, technically Jesus was in fact speaking to the Apostles. Just because this message was given to the Apostles does not mean it was only for the Apostles.  I would suggest we should be careful in applying that logic to things Jesus and other writers said to specific people; using that thinking we could lay claim large parts of God’s Word not being applicable to us, as “Well, that writer was only talking to ________ there, not us.” While directed at those present, there in nothing overall to indicate that we are released from this instruction today.  In fact, if we place it into relation to some of the words we talked about earlier in the post, it is pretty evident there is no restriction on the “who,” here.

There seems to be some concern by some that we aren’t all evangelists, given the gift of Evangelism as put for in Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,

There are a couple of issues here. Sure, not all are called to occupy any official office or position as “evangelist.” So what? Nothing there says we are released from the obligation to practice evangelism, or to be witnesses for Jesus. This is true no more than saying not being given the gift of helps means we don’t have to help, or not being given the gift of prayer means we don’t have to pray.

In summary, the command for believers applies to us all. We don’t always like it, and sometimes would rather be exempt from it; nonetheless, we are all subject to it.

What are your thoughts on this?

Next: If the command to “go,” is for all of us, why don’t we?