Article 2018-02 From Jerusalem to the Whole World
Chapter 41: From Jerusalem to the Whole World
In this lesson we explore what Jesus meant when He spoke about ‘Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth’
… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ After … this, he was taken up … and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:8-11)
After Jesus spoke His last words He was lifted on high before their surprised eyes and disappeared behind a cloud. Nobody said anything. They just stood there, staring at the sky.
Two angels appeared and looked at the bewildered disciples with kind sympathy. They comforted them with the words that Jesus would one day return, just as they had seen Him leave. The disciples went back to the upper room in Jerusalem and in the following days they met for prayer, anticipating what was to come. They discussed Jesus’ last words, but hardly realized their importance and far-reaching consequences.
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come … So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him (Matt. 24:42,44)
A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return … He was made king … and returned home (Luke 19:12,15)
When Jesus spoke about Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth, He meant of the literal, geographical locations, but not only that. Because the gospel needs to be preached in the entire world, we must find out what these words mean for us, His disciples in the 21st century.
In a geographical sense, ‘Jerusalem’ for us means our city or village, the physical places we are most familiar with. In a relational sense ‘Jerusalem’ means the people we know best: spouses, children, family, friends or colleagues that are not yet believers in Christ.
In a geographical sense, ‘Judea’ for us means our country or part of it where the same language is spoken. Places that may not be near – they may even be far away – but places where relationally we would not be considered as strangers because we share the same culture, worldview and value-system.
Witnessing for Christ in ‘Jerusalem’ or ‘Judea’ means mono-cultural evangelism: the gospel can be shared with most people, without the necessity for an evangelist to learn another language or culture.
In a geographical sense ‘Samaria’ for us means either another country or part of our country, where a slightly different language is spoken and where people’s religious views also differ a bit, e.g. belonging to another form of the same major religion. Relationally speaking, ‘Samaritans’ are the people we prefer to avoid because we dislike or despise them for whatever reason.
The ‘uttermost parts of the earth’, in a geographical sense, are parts of countries that are so hard to reach, that the gospel has not yet been taken there. Reasons can be that there are no roads, rivers or airports to access the area. These uttermost parts can often only be reached by foot and are far away. In such areas, languages as well as cultures and religions differ greatly from our own. Relationally speaking the people in the ‘uttermost parts’ are those we are least familiar with. They are total strangers to us in all respects.
Witnessing of Christ in ‘Samaria’ and the ‘uttermost parts of the earth’ means cross-cultural missions: the gospel can only be shared with people once the missionary has learned their language, culture and religion very well.
|Outreach to Jerusalem & Judea|
|Mono-cultural local Evangelism|
|Outreach to Samaria & the Ends of the Earth|
|Cross-cultural foreign Missions|
For evangelism in ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Judea’ no more training is needed than being Christ’s disciple, able to give one’s testimony and tell the gospel to an unbeliever in a way he or she can understand. The words of such a witness need to be backed up by a Godly lifestyle. Practice and preaching must be consistent. ‘Talking the talk’ without ‘walking the walk’ will not work and bring discredit to the name of Christ and the church.
For missions in ‘Samaria’ and the ‘uttermost parts of the earth’ hard training is needed, apart from the basic training one needs to minister in Jerusalem and Judea. Such missionaries need to be well trained in how to learn foreign languages, how to adapt to different cultures and how to get to know non-Christian religions so well that they can intelligently debate it with its spiritual leaders.
It may sound complicated, but we talk about cultural, linguistic and religious barriers more than geographical ones, although these do play a role in certain areas. When Christians live in a large city, it will be pretty easy for them to meet ‘Samaritans’ and people from the ‘uttermost parts’. With migration from rural areas to cities, one can now meet many more nationalities in one place than fifty years ago. The mission fields have come closer than they were, especially in the cities. But this should not blind us to the fact that the remaining unreached people groups are unreached for good reasons, whether physical or relational. The ‘easier’ forms therefore, we call mono-cultural evangelism and the harder forms we call cross-cultural missions.
Finally we should understand that Jesus spoke about Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. Every healthy church should occupy itself with all four areas simultaneously. Jesus never gave us the choice to minister either here, or there.
Discussion & dialogue
- Define the difference between mono-cultural evangelism and cross-cultural missions
- Discuss with your study group what each of the four areas means for your ministry
- Which 3 of the 10 themes feature in this chapter? How? (Answer: see Teacher’s Guide)