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Missionaries and Us…What’s the Difference?

August 7, 2009

I am wondering where the name “missionaries” got started…and what it is, exactly, that makes them different from the rest of us?

I decided to take a look at those words that are so often called “The Great Commission”.

Mar 16:12-19 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country. 13 They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either. 14 Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 17 “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. Although this says He spoke to His eleven, that does not exclude the possibility of others being there, too, especially when we compare it to the parallel passages.

Mat 28:16-20 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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.” We know the eleven are there, but we don’t know for sure that they are alone. Since it is not totally clear when this occurred, it may be a separate instance of His teaching this.

“They” in this first verse refers to the two men Yeshua spoke with on the road to Emmaus… Luk 24:33-51 And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread. 36 While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be to you.” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate it before them. 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 would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would 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.” 50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. It is clear in this passage that the eleven are not alone.So, these words of Yeshua are to all who were gathered there, not just the “eleven”.

Consider this also:  Luk 10:1 Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. Hmmmm…Yeshua sent out 70, yet He had already chosen the 12.

So, where did the idea that missionaries are people who are somehow set apart from the rest of us? That they are somehow doing something we are not all called to do? Yeshua talked about starting in Yerushalayim/Jerusalem and going into the far corners of the earth. Clearly, every place in between is included in that! We are to start at home and spread out.

That means that you and I, if were are disciples of Yeshua/Jesus, are to be telling everyone we meet about the Gospel. Are we? Is there really supposed to be a separate status called “missionary”. You can’t say the separation point is that they are supported because there are some who work jobs and earn their way. Plus, there are many “church workers” who are paid/supported. Pay is pay.

So, what makes the difference between missionaries and the rest of us? Could it be that the only real difference is that they take the “Great Commision” more seriously than the rest of us? Ouch!

Abba, may we ALL take seriously Your command to go and teach all the nations…starting with our own home town just as You commanded that it start in Yerushalayim.

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