Transforming lives on four continents

Bible reflection - extra

Posted by Mission Catalyst at 14:17 on 25th May 2010

Paul Beasley-Murray looks at the Emmaus walk (Luke 24: 13-48) with a world focus

The Emmaus walk climaxes in a ‘Great Commission’. Although first addressed to those who had been with Jesus during the three eventful years of his earthly ministry, this commission is applicable to any who claim to be disciples of Jesus.

“You are witnesses” (v48), says Jesus. Witnessing is for everybody. Furthermore, important as is the witness of a life, in Luke's writings a Christian's witness is always verbalised (eg Acts 8: 25; Acts 10: 39-43; Acts 13: 30, 31, 38; Acts 18: 15; 20: 24, 25). We may not have to preach, but we most certainly have to speak.

Secondly, our witness is to focus on the good news of Jesus.  When Jesus said, “You are witnesses of these things” (v48), he was referring to the “repentance and forgiveness of sin” available as a result of his death and his resurrection.

In other words, the task of every disciple – and not just every preacher – is to interpret the significance of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for others, and in doing so to spell out the gospel offer of forgiveness and the gospel demand of repentance.

There is no doubt a place for talking about the church we attend and all the interesting activities our church has to offer, just as there is a place for discussing subjects as diverse as creation, suffering and biblical inspiration, but primarily we are to witness to Jesus.

Thirdly, important though our friends and neighbours are, who may well form our “Jerusalems”, we are also to witness to “all nations” (v47). Our witness must have a world focus! For some of us this may involve going with BMS to people living in distant lands.

For others this may involve engaging with people from other nations and cultures around us. For yet others, this may involve coming alongside children and young people of our own nation, who may know less about Jesus than many of the Africans to whom our mission personnel first took the gospel. Within the context of Luke “all nations” are those who are furthest from God.  

Witnessing has never been easy. It is no accident that the English word ‘martyr’ is derived from the Greek word for witness (martus). Not everybody will welcome us when we seek to share our faith in Jesus. Thank God Jesus has not left us on our own.  He has promised his Spirit.  

As Luke in the Book of Acts makes clear, the secret of the expansion of the early church did not lie in the gifts that any of the apostles had, but rather in the Holy Spirit who worked through them. Here is hope for us too!

Rev Dr Paul Beasley-Murray, now senior minister of Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford, served with BMS in Congo/Zaire from 1970-1972.

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