‘45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.’
In the Upper Room on that first glorious Easter Sunday, Jesus briefs his apostles on their mission. He meets them after he has already spoken to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. As we read in the verses above, he gives them the content of the gospel and then directs them on where they are to take it. It is their message and their mission. It is also our message and our mission, as Christians.
First, the message. The content of the gospel message given by the risen Lord Jesus Christ is extraordinary good news about certain historical facts. It is not a philosophy, a religion, a command to live a better life, or even an appeal to be born again (though it will demand that as a response). It is news about the sufferings, death, burial and resurrection of God’s anointed king, the Messiah (see also 1 Corinthians 15). This news, prophesied in the Old Testament, is what Jesus is telling the disciples in person on that first Easter evening. It has come to pass in Jesus’ own life, death and resurrection. These facts constitute tremendous good news for whoever believes them. It is the marvellous gospel message which has remained unchanged for two thousand years and is still as relevant today as it was in the 1st Century.
Secondly, the mission. The mission Jesus sends his apostles on is to offer forgiveness of sins to all who will repent of those sins, believe in the gospel and trust in Christ (e.g. Acts 2.38). God is a gracious and kind God who longs to forgive. All of us, without exception, need this wonderful forgiveness from the Lord because the natural inclination of our hearts is away from God and his love. This is the root of all sin. In his mercy, however, God has made a way to forgive us, without compromising his justice, through Jesus’ death on the cross. The mission is therefore to offer forgiveness to all mankind without any discrimination. It is a worldwide mission, beginning from Jerusalem, in which the historical events of the gospel took place.
It is the duty and joy of every Christian to get involved in Jesus’ mission, taking the message everywhere without restriction by going ourselves, by praying and by giving. It is a delight and a huge privilege to be involved in such a unique mission given by Jesus and we can only offer him heartfelt praise that he calls us to serve him in this way. Easter is a time to be thrilled by hearing once again his message and to engage in his mission.
Sincerely in Christ