My friend Tom Sims posted a quotation from Matthew, which got me thinking (my emboldening):-
When Jesus became aware of this, he departed.
Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, and he ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
“Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
I have also recently been thinking about the Great Commission, to some extent courtesy of listening to a Richard Rohr podcast. This is also found in Matthew (28:16-20):-
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee onto a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and on earth.
Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Amen.
That got me thinking about the way in which people have so often told me this initial instruction to the disciples not to talk about him became an instruction to “go and teach all nations”, and how that has always been interpreted as “teach all nations about Jesus”.
The thing is, that’s not what Matthew 28 tells the disciples to do. It tells them to teach them to observe Jesus’ commandments (and I think of “if you love me, you will obey my commandments” from John 14:15, and the synopsis of Jesus’ commands in the Great Commandment). I might, perhaps, extend that to the “good news” (i.e. Gospel); that, I think, is encapsulated in what might be regarded as Jesus’ “mission statement” in Luke 4:18-19 ”
“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” “. That is quoting Isaiah, about the Year of Jubilee (which is something Israel is supposed to implement, not something which is miraculously imposed by God).
There’s nothing about Jesus in there… nor is there anything about sin, hell, judgment or most of those things which street evangelists like to talk about.
John Dominic Crossan talks about how the religion OF Jesus becomes the religion ABOUT Jesus; I’ve written about this previously in “Direction Finding with Jesus”. I don’t think we were ever instructed to go out and tell everyone about Jesus. I think we were instructed to go out and tell everyone Jesus’ message. And that is the Great Commandment and the news of the Jubilee which we should be implementing.