Jesus wasn’t making a suggestion when He called His followers to make disciples of all nations. He was serious. In (Mark 16.15 NIV), He gave this command to His men: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” Again in (Acts 1.8 NIV) Jesus declared, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The phrases “go … and preach” and “you will be my witnesses,” don’t sound like Jesus is unclear or half-hearted on this issue. He sounds like a king giving orders and that is exactly who He is.
The Apostle Paul knew that he had been commissioned by the King of Kings to take this message and declare it to everyone who would listen. He told the believers in Rome, “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the Gospel also to you who are in Rome,”(Romans 1.14-15 NIV).
The word “obligated” actually means to be a debtor or to pay back something owed. Paul knew that he owed people the Gospel. It was his to give, and he was required to give it. Paul didn’t give the Gospel begrudgingly or with a critical attitude. He was “eager to preach” to those in Rome, but he realized that Jesus Christ had given him this charge and that one day he was going to answer to King Jesus for what he did with the Gospel he had received.
After Paul shared the story of how on the road to Damascus Jesus commissioned him to preach the Gospel, he said, “I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven,” (Acts 26:19 NIV). Paul wasn’t disobedient to Jesus. Underline that last line. He was a faithful witness of all he had seen and heard (Acts 4.20 ESV).
How about you? Are you obedient to the commission of Jesus to tell people what He has done for you? Ultimately, silence is a sin. Refusing to speak is rebellion against your King. Jesus has placed you where you are for a reason because there are people living next to you and working across from you, who desperately need the Gospel. It’s your obligation and privilege to share it with them.
One day Jesus told a parable that sheds light on the idea of obedience. He said, “A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ “And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. “The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you,” (Matthew 21.28-31 NaSB).
This story sits in the middle of a heated conversation. I can just imagine Jesus staring down the group of Pharisees with locked eyes and clenched fists. While these religious leaders claimed to know God and represent Him to the people, their hard hearts had turned to plot violence against Jesus. Jesus saw the irony and hypocrisy in their actions. They were the judges over Israel, handing down punishments to those who failed to comply with the smallest detail of the law, yet, they themselves were guilty of the ultimate disobedience — rejecting the messiah.
In order to expose them, Jesus fired off this story. A father had two sons. He commanded one to go work in his field and the son flatly refused. This was the ultimate in disobedience and disrespect. According to the law, this son could have been killed for such a crime (Deuteronomy 21.18-21 ESV). But this father had mercy on his son and walked away, giving him time to reconsider. After some time, the son felt guilty for what he had said, and he went to work in his Father’s vineyard as he was told. meanwhile, the father went to his other son and gave him the same command, “Go work today in my vineyard.”This son quickly agreed. “Yes, Father. I’ll get right on that.”But once the father left, the son went back to doing what he wanted and never gave working in the field a second thought.
Then Jesus asked, “Which son actually obeyed his father?” The answer was obvious: the one who actually worked in the field. Then Jesus turned on these polished religious professionals and said in effect, “…His love and light to the nations,” according to (Isaiah 49.6 ESV), but while claiming to be obedient, you have refused to work in His field by pointing people to the messiah. At the same time, the Father has gone to the Gentiles and, even worse, tax collectors and prostitutes, and they have obeyed His commands by following me and telling others about me. So you tell me: Which one has been obedient to my Father?” In one sweeping statement, Jesus unmasked the religious elite, exposing their disobedience while elevating the simple sinner who chose to follow and obey Jesus.
The same truth is still relevant today. Just because a person is religious, doesn’t make them right with God. In fact, it is possible to look and act very spiritual and yet ignore Jesus’ clear command to take the Gospel to the nations. It is also quite possible that those who start out in life rebelling against God can come to faith, be made new, and live their lives obeying His command to tell others about Him.
The big question is this: Which one are you?
This blog is an excerpt that comes from our book “REACH YOUR WORLD”, which you can purchase here.
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash