Make Disciples of all Nations
In the oft-quoted passage that wraps up the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his followers to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). In doing so, they—and we—are to be a missionary for Jesus.
We see this repeated in the book of Mark (Mark 16:15-20). In the parallel account in the book of Acts, Jesus tells them to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all nations (Acts 1:4-8). From this we get some key insights into the places where we can be a missionary for Jesus.
1. Where We Are (Jerusalem)
When Jesus tells his followers to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, they’re in Jerusalem at that time. It isn’t where they’re from or where they live, but where they are at that moment.
The first way we can be a missionary for Jesus is to tell others about him wherever we are, in our day-to-day life. In this way, we don’t need to go far. Our mission field is wherever we happen to be.
2. Our Own Country and People (Judea)
Judea is a geographic area that aligns with what was once the nation of Judah before their exile. Though the Romans occupied their land at that time, and they no longer had a country of their own, the reference to Judea implies their own nation. It definitely refers to their own people.
The second way we can be a missionary for Jesus is to witness for him in our own country, to our own people.
3. Those on the Fringe (Samaria)
Samaria is a region north of Judea. It was once part of Israel, before that nation was conquered and exiled. The Jews of that day looked down at the people in Samaria and didn’t associate with them, viewing them as inferior.
Yet Jesus tells his disciples to witness to these people. Jesus modeled this in his life and in his ministry. To us today, Samaria represents the people on the fringes of society, who we may not want to associate with. Yet Jesus tells us that we can be a missionary for him to these people too.
4. All Nations (the ends of the Earth)
The fourth category is the one that gets the most attention in our churches today. This is training and sending missionaries around the world to other countries: to be a missionary for Jesus. Only a few receive God’s call to go to another part of the world to tell people about him.
And for the rest of us, we need to heed the first item on this list: To tell those we live and work with about Jesus. Everyone can do that, and everyone should do that.
We need to be a missionary for Jesus wherever we are.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.