Carrying On Jesus’ Work

KEY VERSE: “As ye go, preach saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils, freely ye have received, freely give.” —Matthew 10:7,8

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 10:1, 5-20

WHEN the great men of earth die, their careers come to an end. But with Jesus, it was different. His sacrificial death was in reality but the beginning of other work. His death laid the foundation for the reconciliation and salvation of all who, when given a full opportunity, would believe on him. One of the comprehensive statements of Jesus’ ministry is given by the Apostle Paul, who informs us that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” He then adds, “and hath committed unto us the Word of reconciliation.” (II Cor. 5:19) This was first committed to Jesus’ apostles.

So, while Jesus was with them, the apostles were given some firsthand experience witnessing in preparation for the time when he would leave them, and the full weight of responsibility for the ministry would rest on their shoulders. Not only were the apostles sent forth to preach that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, but they were also commanded and empowered to perform works such as those which will be done on behalf of humanity during the kingdom when it is established. That is, they were to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils.” As opportunity afforded, they performed all these miracles much to the joy of those who benefited from them.

Just before his ascension, the disciples were instructed by Jesus not to embark on their worldwide ministry until they were endued with the power of the Holy Spirit. “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Should they undertake this ministry without the Holy Spirit, they would be entering the field of service without the presence of the Master; for his promise to be with them was to find fulfillment through the Holy Spirit which he would shed forth upon them.

Reaffirming that after a brief period of waiting at Jerusalem they would receive the promised power from on high, and that then they were to be his witnesses, his ambassadors, unto the uttermost parts of the earth, he left them, ascending into the heavens where a cloud received him out of their sight.

Earlier Jesus had given the disciples two very reassuring thoughts when outlining the commission of service for which they were to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” and then added, “Lo I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world [age].” To the extent the disciples could grasp the import of these words it must have made them realize that regardless of the hardships involved in the work of going into all the world to preach the Gospel, they would not lack for strength and guidance, for their Master was to be with them, and all power had been given to him.

Jesus’ assurance that he would be with the disciples always, even to the end of the age, does not militate against the fact of his return at his second advent. Rather, by telling them that now he had all power in heaven and in earth, and that he would be with them, he was merely conveying to their minds that they should think of his presence with them during the age in the same sense as they were accustomed to thinking of the presence of Jehovah.

And what a wonderful opportunity for service the Master outlined for them! To teach all nations, baptizing the believers in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit! The commission to teach all nations must be understood in the light of a former commission Jesus had given to his disciples—the one in which he specifically told them not to go to the Gentiles, nor to any city of the Samaritans.—Matt. 10:5

Now he was telling them, in effect, that these restrictions were removed, and that they were free to go anywhere and to preach the Gospel to anyone who had a hearing ear. The intent of the new commission was not that they should expect to convert all nations, but that the whole world was to be their field of activity—beginning at Jerusalem.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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