2015 5-3 ‘Our Mission’ Luke 24 44-49

LUKE 24:44-49

I. Introduction
Those of you who have been around for a while will remember a very popular television show that ran from 1966-1973. I think it’s been in reruns ever since.

It began with a rather dapper looking gentlemen stepping into a phone booth or a closet or some other secluded or isolated place. He pushed the “play” button on a small tape recorder and heard, “Good morning, Mr. Phelps.” The voice on the tape would then describe what Jim Phelps was being asked to do. It was always important and it was always dangerous. Once the explanation was complete, the voice would say, “Your mission Jim, should you decide to accept it, will be to accomplish this task. As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim.”

The premise of the show Mission: Impossible is something about which most Christians can easily relate. We have a mission. It is clear and straightforward. We are to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. And even though we may sometimes think it’s impossible, we know it isn’t. God never asks us to do the impossible. The so-called “impossible” is His job.
Matthew 19:26b
26b “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

As I said, Jim Phelps’ mission was always important and always dangerous. What God has called us to do is infinitely more important than what Jim Phelps was asked to do. And it can also be dangerous. For the last two thousand years untold numbers of Christians have been laying down their lives while accomplishing their mission. But has that stopped the spread of the gospel? It has not! Why? Because “…with God all things are possible.”

Therefore, “Your mission, Christian, should you decide to accept it, will be to obey God. As always, should you or any of your brothers and sisters be caught or killed, your God will NEVER disavow any knowledge of your actions. These words will NEVER self-destruct. And one more thing, Christian, there will NEVER be any luck involved in your mission.”
Matthew 28:19-20
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

As we approach the end of Luke’s gospel, our mission is before us.

II. Review
Let’s put today’s sermon in context. Jesus has been resurrected. He’s appeared to a number of the faithful women, including Mary Magdalene. He’s appeared to Peter, Cleopas and his traveling companion on the road to Emmaus, and in Luke 24:39-43, He has appeared to the other apostles, although Thomas was not with them at the time. One by one, each of these men and women have seen and talked with the risen Christ. As the reality of Jesus’ being alive has begun to sink in, their initial fear and shock has turned into joy and excitement.

Over the course of the next forty days Jesus will be with them and appear to at least five hundred other believers in Galilee. At the end of those forty days, He, along with the eleven remaining apostles, will return to the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem’s eastern gate. He will instruct them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit, and they will watch as the Lord Jesus ascends to heaven. But I get ahead of myself. All of that is yet to come.

III. Text
We do not know with certainty exactly when the things Luke reports in this morning’s text took place. It may have been that first night (the first Easter Sunday). There is no indication of any lapse of time between v. 43 and v. 44. Or it could have been as much as forty days later immediately before Jesus’ ascension. The important thing is that these are among His final instructions to the men through whom He would build His church. They are for the eleven and for every one of us who has come to believe in Jesus through their words. That is to say, His instructions are for those who would write the NT, and those who would read it.
*Luke 24:44-49 (Please stand with me in honor of reading God’s Word.)
44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day;
47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
48 “You are witnesses of these things.
49 “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The teaching in these six verses prepared the hearts of the disciples for their transformation. That transformation would come on the Day of Pentecost when they would be filled with the Holy Spirit and the Church of Jesus Christ would be born. These eleven men, along with the soon to be chosen Matthias, would change the world. The significance of their transfor-mation would be monumental. The filling of the Holy Spirit would change their shallow and weak faith into one of depth and great strength. Men who have been discouraged, confused, and fearful are about to become men who are encouraged, clear-headed, and bold.
Today’s passage is Luke’s account of the Great Commission. Matthew’s rendering, which we’ve already read, is more familiar to most Christians. However, it is this account that seems to speak to the whole church, not just the apostles. Everyone who reads it can readily see it is directed to all believers throughout the church age. If you know Christ, you are a part of His body, the church. And if you are a part of His church, you are called to proclaim the truth of the gospel.

Is not the proclamation of the gospel the overarching reason for the existence of the church? Think about it. Everything we are engaged in – the preaching and teaching of the Word, the time we spend together in worship, prayer, and fellowship, our gifts of time, talents, and resources, our personal service to our families, our communities, and our churches, all of it – is for the ultimate goal of spreading the gospel and seeing the lost come to faith in Christ.

This is because the gospel is all about Him and His glory. Therefore, Jesus begins with the priority of evangelism. We have the message, but it is God who does the seeking and it is God who does the saving. The Scriptures open with God seeking the lost through the call of evangelism. Turn to Genesis 3. Adam and Eve have already sinned. What happened?
*Genesis 3:7-9
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
9 Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”

You’ve probably never thought about that passage as one on evangelism, but it is. People commit sin and God calls out to sinners. And God’s call is a call to repentance. So the Bible opens with evangelism and it closes with evangelism. Turn to Revelation 22. The Lord has done everything necessary to provide for our forgiveness and eternal life.
*Revelation 22:16-17
16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

In these verses we hear God’s last call to sinners. Just like the first one in Genesis 3, this is also a call to repentance. That’s what evangelism is. (back to this morning’s text in Luke)
*Luke 24:44
44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
At this point in time the eleven apostles were like many believers today. They were unpre-pared for the task that the Lord was about to lay before them. While their hearts may have been in the right place, their knowledge of God’s Word (the OT) was nowhere near what it should have been. That’s because, like so many Christians today, they had spent their lives being taught half-truths or outright lies. Either their rabbis didn’t know the truth themselves, or worse, they did know it, but chose to suppress it.

So before they could go out into the world with the gospel, they needed to know the gospel. Before they could go out into the world with God’s truth, they needed to know God’s truth. And in their particular case, before they could take the good news of the Messiah out into the world of the Jews, they needed to be clear on one very critical point…
Matthew 5:17-18
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets (the OT); I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.
18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.”

It would take a while for that to be fully comprehended and embraced by the apostles, but they would eventually understand it. In the meantime they needed a grasp of the OT they simply did not have. In John 5:39 Jesus had said that, “…it is these (the OT Scriptures) that bear witness of Me.” But they had far more than that. For three years these men had been with Jesus. He had been teaching them about who He was and the necessity of His death and resurrection. Consider just some of what the Lord had already told them.
Luke 9:22, 44; 18:31
22 “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.”
44 “Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be deliv-ered into the hands of men.”
18:31 And He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.”

Look once again at Luke 24:44. Jesus breaks the OT down into three distinct parts.
• First, He speaks of the Law, a.k.a, the five books of the Pentateuch, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
• Second, He speaks of the Prophets. They include the four major prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, and all twelve of the minor prophets. But they also include the historical books that begin with Joshua and end with of 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, and 1-2 Chronicles.
• Third, Jesus speaks of the Psalms, which represent all of what is often called the wis-dom writings of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.
Jesus’ point here is that He can be found in all thirty-nine books of the OT. And since the OT is all the Scripture the apostles would have to work with for the next twenty years or so, they had better know it; they had better understand it. Their evangelism, like ours, MUST be based on and anchored in the Bible.

Here are three of the major OT prophecies that pointed to Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.
1. He would be descended from Abraham.
Genesis 12:3
3 “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
2. He would be from the tribe of Judah.
Genesis 49:10a
10a “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh (the Messiah) comes.”
3. He would be from the line of David.
2 Samuel 7:16
16 “And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”

In addition to those, the disciples should have known these…
Isaiah 7:14 said the Messiah would be born of a virgin. Micah 5:2 said He would be born in Bethlehem. Psalm 41:19 said He would be betrayed by a close friend. Isaiah 50:6 said He would be beaten, tortured, and spat upon. Zechariah 12:10 said He would be pierced. Psalm 22:18 said soldiers would gamble for His clothes. And both Isaiah 53:10 and Psalm 16:10 said that Messiah would rise from the dead.

The apostles had all of that, AND they had Jesus’ own presence and Jesus’ own words upon which to build their faith and proclaim the gospel. But they hadn’t understood it. They had yet to put it all together and grasp the whole picture. Here in Luke 24:44 Jesus tells them that every detail, every word about Himself in the OT “…must be fulfilled.” Now look at the next verse in this morning’s text.
*Luke 24:45
45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…

Here Jesus does for all of them what He had done earlier for Cleopas and his traveling com-panion at Emmaus. I believe that this opening of their minds was essentially a “one-time” thing. On the Day of Pentecost, the day the church would be born, the third Person of the Trinity, God’s own Holy Spirit, would become our teacher. Since then He has been the One to “…open our minds to understand the Scriptures.”
John 14:26
26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
Before God’s Spirit took up residence within each one of us who have come to saving faith, we didn’t understand His Word. Speaking of the unbelievers in Moses’ day, the Apostle Paul explains it like this…
*2 Corinthians 3:14-16
14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed by Christ.
15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart.
16 but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

This is why unbelievers do not understand the Bible. And this is why, no matter how dili-gent or eloquent or persuasive our arguments may be, you and I, apart from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, will never talk anyone in heaven.

At first that may seem like a discouraging thing to say, but it shouldn’t be discouraging at all. Rather, we should be greatly encouraged by it because it removes any self-imposed bur-den about trying to save our loved ones. We are simply called to know the truth, to under-stand the truth, and to tell the truth. Then, in His time and in His way, the Holy Spirit will do His work and save His chosen ones. And in that way, all the glory goes to God.
John 6:37
37 “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” (back to Luke)

In the next two verses (Luke 24:46-47) Jesus reiterates the truth about Himself that would ulti-mately be written by these men.
*Luke 24:46-47
46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day;
47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

This is the core truth of the Bible and the very heart of the gospel. “Repent and Believe!”
Romans 10:9-10
9 …if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;
10 for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Remember to whom Jesus is speaking here. Matthew and John would write two of the four gospels. John would also write three epistles, and the Revelation. Peter would write the two books that carry his name. And Peter’s friend and young protégé Mark would write the second gospel. Therefore, no fewer than nine of the twenty-seven books of the NT would be penned by the men to whom Jesus is now speaking here in Luke 24.
In Luke 24:27 Jesus reminds us that sins are only forgiven when there is true repentance. The two cannot be separated. Yet there are many today who insist on preaching a gospel without repentance. “Believe in Jesus,” they say. “Just believe,” they say. “Don’t worry about repentance. Repentance is a work, and works do not save, so just believe,” they say. But believe what? Wasn’t it Jesus who said, “I tell you…unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3).”?

Remember that biblical repentance isn’t a work; it’s a change of mind – a change of mind about Jesus Christ. It is only when someone changes his mind about Jesus that they can go from unbelief to belief. The bottom line is this: It’s impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. You can believe ABOUT Jesus without repenting – millions do – but you’ll never believe IN Jesus without repenting. You’ll never come to saving faith without repenting. Listen, salvation without repentance is like breathing without air. It can’t be done.

But the false gospel that tries to separate faith from repentance runs rampant today, and it is why so many churches are filled with so many people who think they are Christians, but are not. It is both a scandal and a tragedy that will not be fully known until the day that Christ returns and judges His church.

Do you remember what John the Baptist did when He paved the way for Jesus’ ministry?
Luke 3:3
3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

When the church was born Peter said…
Acts 2:38
38 “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

In Luke 24:47 it is that repentance Jesus says is to be proclaimed in His name. That is our mission. The three words “…in Jesus’ name” or “…in His name” are often misunderstood. They’re what is known as a “metonym.” Metonyms are words that are used as substitutes for others. For example, someone might say “The White House said…” as a substitute for “The President said…” Peter does this with the word “name” in a familiar verse in Acts.
Acts 4:12
12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under hea-ven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”

As Christians, we’re not only to pray “in Jesus’ name,” but we’re to do everything else in and through His name as well. That’s because there is no other way to access God’s power. Didn’t Jesus say “…no one comes to the Father, but through Me (John 14:6b).”? (It’s interest-
ing to note that the early Christians were known as the people who called on His name.)
In Luke 24:47 Jesus says that the gospel of repentance for forgiveness is to be preached to all the nations (Gentiles), but it is to begin in Jerusalem. The reason that evangelism was to begin in Jerusalem was that the apostles understood that Jesus “…was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24).” In the beginning they didn’t preach the gospel anywhere else. That changed in Acts 8 when the persecution by the Jews became so great that Philip went to Samaria and began preaching there. But it wasn’t until Acts 10 when God made it clear to Peter that the gospel was for the Gentiles too.
*Acts 10:34-35, 44-45
34 And opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,
35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.
45 And all the circumcised believers (Jewish Christians) who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also.

The gospel would ultimately go out to the Gentiles, and the church would be born because Israel had rejected her Messiah. Therefore Jesus said she would be cut off and left desolate. That’s exactly what happened in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Jews who survived were scattered across the face of the earth. (the “diaspora” or dispersion)

But today, beginning with the rebirth of Israel in 1948, and the Jewish re-occupation of Jerusalem after the 1967 war, the Jews are coming home. Thus we know that the return of Jesus is near. When He comes Romans 11:26 says that “…all Israel will be saved.” When will that happen? Romans 11:25 tells us: “…when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” We believe that will be when the church is made complete – when the last Gentile God has chosen to save comes to saving faith and trusts Christ – then, and only then, will the church, the Bride of Christ be ready. When that happens, “the fullness of the Gentiles (will have) come in,” and the Second Coming will be upon us.

Let me encourage you with this: Every time someone comes to faith in Christ, the church is one step closer to Jesus’ return for us.
*Luke 24:48-49
48 “You are witnesses of these things.
49 “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

God has chosen us to tell someone. It is our mission. In Revelation 14:6 an angel tells John to preach the eternal gospel “…to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” I think that covers everybody, don’t you?
Finally, in v. 49 Jesus gives us a preview of what will take place in Acts 2:4a when, on the Day of Pentecost, they would “…all be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

IV. Conclusion
So whose job is it to get the gospel out? It’s ours – all of us. The Great Commission could not be more clear. Johann-Peter read it to open the service, I read it earlier, and we’ll read it again in closing.
*Matthew 28:19-20
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The gospel! It’s our mission – and it’s NOT impossible. I challenge you to ask the Lord to put someone on your heart today. When He answers your prayer, and when that person crosses your path, tell them the story of Jesus. Who knows? The one you talk to just might be one of God’s chosen – one of those predestined from eternity past to hear what you have to say. And we’ll be one step closer to Jesus’ return for His church.

~ Pray ~