“I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13:47)
Acts 13 records the account of Paul and Barnabas’ ministry at Antioch in Pisidia. Entering the synagogue on the Sabbath day, Paul stood and preached the gospel of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. He shows how Jesus is the fulfillment of the second psalm–“You are my Son, today I have begotten You.” At the close of Paul’s message, verse 42 says that the people begged him to preach the same message the next week. I’m sure any preacher would be encouraged by such spiritual hunger! On the next Sabbath, almost the whole city gathered to hear the gospel preached by Paul. Can you imagine a people being so gripped by the gospel that they invite their friends, their neighbors, their coworkers, and their family? What if next week the whole city showed up at your church to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ? That’s exactly what happens in this passage. Of course, there are always those who want to stir things up. The enemy of all souls doesn’t like it when his territory is invaded by gospel truth. Verse 45 says that when the unbelieving Jews saw the crowds of Gentiles, they were filled with jealousy and began to revile Paul. He looks at them and says, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.” Paul then quotes Isaiah 49:6 and shows how it was the will of God for salvation to be brought to the ends of the earth.
Our God is a “missionary” God. His heart longs for the nations to taste and know His salvation. He has entrusted His church with the gospel of His Son which we are to take and spread among the nations of the world. Upon hearing Paul’s words, verse 48 says, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” This should remind us as Christ’s disciples that there are people all around us whom God is pursuing. Even now, God may be pursuing your neighbor or friend. He may be pursuing that sales clerk at the store where you frequently shop. He is pursuing the university student in Hong Kong. He is pursuing the man in India who is making a pilgrimage to the Ganges. God is a missionary, and He is seeking worshipers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. How will they ever hear of His grace without someone who proclaims it? How shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?
God desires to use us to be a light to the ends of the earth. The Great Commission begins with us and starts with our own back yard, but it does not stop there. Jesus Christ has commanded us to make disciples of all the nations. In order for us to do this, we cannot view people as being interruptions to our schedule. We must learn to see people as God see people–lost, hopeless, and sheep having no shepherd. The people you interact with today are there by divine appointment. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are a “light for the Gentiles” so that He may use you to bring salvation to the ends of the earth as you share the gospel and make disciples.