Friday, February 20, 2009

Jesus came renewing the missions mandate

When Jesus came, he went first to the house of Israel (Matt 10:5f; 15:24). But his ministry didn't focus on the Jewish parochial hopes for worldwide superiority: "You will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples of teh earth" (Exod 19:5 NLT). Rather, he reinvigorated the Jewish promise that they would be a blessing to the nations (Gen 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; Ps 72:17; see Acts 3:5; Gal 3:8). He did this in two ways:

First, he began fulfilling the Old Testament promise that the nations could come in to Jerusalem and its temple: "My temple will be known as a temple where all nations may pray" (Isa 56:7 NET; quoted in Mark 11:17). "All nations will stream to it" (Isa 2:2 NET). Jesus begin reinvigorating God's goal with respect to Zion was this:

On the holy mountain stands the city founded by the LORD. 2 He loves the city of Jerusalem more than any other city in Israel. 3 O city of God, what glorious things are said of you! Interlude 4 I will count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me-- also Philistia and Tyre, and even distant Ethiopia. They have all become citizens of Jerusalem! 5 Regarding Jerusalem it will be said, "Everyone enjoys the rights of citizenship there." And the Most High will personally bless this city. 6 When the LORD registers the nations, he will say, "They have all become citizens of Jerusalem." Interlude 7 The people will play flutes and sing, "The source of my life springs from Jerusalem!" For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah. A song to be sung to the tune "The Suffering of Affliction." A psalm of Heman the Ezrahite. (Ps 87 NLT)

Second, Jesus sent his disciples out to the nations: "Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt 28:19f NLT).

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