This verse is a succinct way for us to remember the scope of our mission as a local church. Jesus has given us our marching orders! Our next door neighbors must be our concern, but we dare not stop there. As John Wesley said, “The world is my parish!” Our vision must be one of global mission. What does this look like? Our “Jerusalem” represents our immediate neighbors, those who are the closest to us. Our “Judea” represents our circle of influence, those we come into contact with through work, hobbies, and our travels. Our “Samaria” represents our hard to reach communities, those with whom we are culturally different. And the “end of the earth” is just that–the whole world!
The plan of Jesus is for spiritually empowered disciples to take the gospel to our lost neighbors, to our surrounding neighborhoods, and ultimately to the nations. Jesus says, “You will be My witnesses.” This is both a prophetic promise as well as a direct command. But it is only true through the enabling power of God’s Spirit.
God’s Spirit empowers us to be witnesses for Christ. We are never alone in the mission. The word ‘witnesses’ translates a word that means ‘martyr,’ those who have seen and testify to truth. Eventually, it came to describe those who demonstrated their faith in Christ by undergoing a violent death for His sake. Thus, the Holy Spirit empowers me to lay down my life for Christ. This is much more than the comfortable Christianity with which we’ve grown accustomed. May God save us from a comfortable, cozy Christianity that doesn’t really cost us anything!
The mission of God is not advanced on spare time and pocket change. It will only be advanced by those who are empowered and willing to lay down their lives for Christ’s sake.
For more, read Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16