In His last addresses to His disciples and those who had followed His ministry for years, the risen Lord Jesus gave this imperative: "When the Helper comes, leave the city. Leave your hometowns. Leave your nations. Go so far from home, if you took one more step, you'd start your journey back. Go to the ends of the earth" (see Acts 1:8). Every ear around Him on the Mount called Olivet would have recognized that term—the ends of the earth—because Isaiah spoke so much about it. Because the psalmist sang so much about it. Because King David himself had prophesied about it.
to the ends of the earth
The command of Matthew 28:19-20 is anchored and secured by the commitment of Matthew 24:14—this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to all nations as a witness, and then the "end will come." The Lord Jesus will return in power and glory with a shout. He will resurrect His saints who have fallen asleep. The Son of David will rule and reign from Zion.
Isaiah spoke of "distant coastlands in the dawning light" who would magnify the God of Israel in the midst of great global upheaval before the return of the Lord (see Isaiah 24:14-16). He wrote about a "new song" coming from the ends of the earth—and reiterated his point a few chapters later, when that "new song" traveled back across the globe—not from the City of the Great King (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35), but back to it, making its way through the Arab world as it went (see Isaiah 42:10-13). We eagerly await and work toward the day Jerusalem once again erupts with thanksgiving for her King's triumphant entry (Matthew 23:39).
FINISHING THE TASK
Jesus' name was first spoken in the "distant coastlands in the dawning light" (see Isaiah 24:14-16) just two or three centuries ago as Gospel pioneers reached the South Pacific. Men like John G. Paton defied threats of cannibalism and spent decades on the opposite side of the globe from where they grew up. Now, the final frontiers of unreached and unengaged nations and neighborhoods lay concentrated in the 10/40 Window—with an emphasis on the Arab world and Middle East.
The Lord is committed to His name being known across the earth (Psalm 113:3; Malachi 1:11). We are burdened by the blasphemy in this region, and compelled by our love for Jesus to give a witness of the Living God in the midst of it. We believe Jesus is better than a lie. We believe He is worth being declared. We believe the unreached deserve the dignity of hearing the name of their Maker in their own tongue. It will be difficult to finish this holy task, but it is not impossible.
We are privileged to participate in making
Jesus famous where He isn't known.
In the days nearing the end of this age, the "love of many will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12). It is our conviction that disciple makers—everywhere, and certainly in dark and difficult places—must tell these new ears not only "this Gospel of the Kingdom," but the story of Mary of Bethany (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8) as well, just as Jesus commanded. He is to be loved, adored, esteemed, worshipped, and obeyed above every other person, thing, ambition, and dream. He is to have preeminence in all things (Colossians 1:18). And He is worth the "waste" of our shattered alabaster, and He is worth being given and covered in everything we have to offer.