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Summary: Preaching AHEAD of Jesus' coming to a place and people.

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THE PURPOSE OF CHRISTIAN WITNESS AND MISSION

Matthew 11:1

Matthew 11:1 really belongs to the end of Matthew 10. In this verse we discover the whole purpose of Christian witness and mission. The places to which - and more importantly the people to whom - the Lord is sending His disciples are the very same places and people that Jesus has on His own itinerary.

Why was Paul sent to preach in Corinth? It was because, ‘I have much people in this city,’ said the Lord (Acts 18:9-11). Jesus sent His disciples ahead of Him, to what Matthew terms “their” cities (Matthew 11:1) - the cities which He had given them (Luke 19:16-19).

One way of viewing our Christian witness is to recognise that the mission of the church is a continuation of the Lord’s own work. The Acts of the Apostles is a continuation of the account of Luke’s Gospel: there is a definite continuity between the two books. Luke explained the historical limit of his former work: it contained the beginning of the work and teaching of Jesus until the ascension (Acts 1:1). Therefore his second book is the account of the continuation: it contains what Jesus afterwards said and did by the power of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of His Apostles.

Matthew presents a different perspective, however, emphasizing that the places and people to which the Lord is sending them/us are the same cities to which the Lord intends to come Himself (Matthew 11:1). This puts a different light on evangelism: not only have we been equipped as witnesses to the incarnate Lord (Acts 1:8), but - like John the Baptist - we also proclaim the One who is to come (Matthew 11:1). [It is John the Baptist, strangely enough, who sets the agenda for the rest of Matthew 11!]

Meantime, there is work to do. The exhortation to “watch” (Matthew 24:42) must be balanced with the command to “occupy (do business) until I come” (Luke 19:13). A work still in progress.


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