Between the time of Jesus’ resurrection and His ascension, He had one thought on his mind. What was that thought and why did Jesus repeat Himself so often?
Read Josh’s Book “Go”: https://amzn.to/2RslerE
The Great Commission is not a suggestion, it is a command.
Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Mark 16:15-18 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Luke 24:47-48 repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
John 20:21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Acts 1:8 But 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.”
Listen to The Evangelism Coach, Daniel King, on the Evangelism Podcast! Please subscribe and leave a review today on iTunes.
Daniel King (00:00):
All right. Welcome to the evangelism podcast. I’m Daniel King and I am excited about leading people to Jesus. And today’s guest is Joshua Wagner. He is the son of Kevin and Nicole Wagner. He began ministering at the age of 14 by leading teen conferences around the world. And then at the age of 18, he began leading his own leadership conferences and evangelists crusades around the world ministering to up to 50,000 people at a time. Josh and I have had the privilege of preaching together in some nations, Josh, he graduated from victory college and from oral Roberts university with a master divinity degree. And so Josh, welcome to the podcast. Delighted to have you
Josh Wagner (00:47):
With us today. Thank you, Daniel. I’m happy to be here.
Daniel King (00:50):
And so today we’re going to talk about the great commission and I know you’re excited about the great commission. You’re very passionate about going and telling people about Jesus. And the specific question that we’re going to discuss is why did Jesus repeat himself five times? So Josh in the gospels between the time of Jesus’s resurrection and the time of his Ascension,
Josh Wagner (01:21):
He repeats great
Daniel King (01:23):
Commission instructions five different times. Why do you think Jesus repeated himself so much?
Josh Wagner (01:29):
Yeah. Well, that’s a great question. It’s a great point. And you know what, one of the things that’s interesting in scripture and it’s true, even outside of scripture in our only own daily lives, is that when you really want to emphasize a point, you, you repeat it. The Bible was written in both Hebrew and Greek and in Hebrew and Greek, they don’t have exclamation points. They don’t have all the punctuation marks that we have in English. And so one of the ways that the biblical authors and even those who are non-biblical, but we’re writing in those languages at that time would emphasize a point is that they would repeat it. So, for example, in Isaiah six, Isaiah sees this vision of Jesus in heaven, and he’s surrounded by the angels and they are crying out Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord, God almighty. And why are they repeating the word? Holy not because they’re stuttering or because they forget the first time.
Daniel King (02:24):
Josh Wagner (02:25):
Exactly the reason that they’re repeating it is to emphasize the holiness of God, because they were unable to put an exclamation point upon after that. They would emphasize it by repetition.
Daniel King (02:36):
And so in the Hebrew language, at that time in the manuscripts, there’s no punctuation, there’s no explanation point. So they repeated it. Holy Holy Holy, to emphasize this is something really important. You need to,
Josh Wagner (02:49):
They wanted to hammer home the point that God is Holy. And so when we see the same thing happening in scripture, where there, where God is repeating himself, it’s not because he’s forgetful it’s because oftentimes we are forgetful and we oftentimes need him and others in every, in all areas of life to have the same message repeated over and over again, in order for us to get it through our thick skull and undoubtedly, that’s why the Bible records the great commission five times, you know, it’s, it’s not even just five times, it’s by four different authors in five different books, stated in five different ways. It’s, God’s way of really trying to hammer home. This is important.
Daniel King (03:30):
Absolutely. So let’s go ahead and, and read through them. And I’ll start in the book of Matthew chapter 28, verse 18. And then I’ll ask you to comment on it and tell me what you get out of this passage. So it says, then Jesus came to them and said, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.
Josh Wagner (04:12):
Amen. What a wonderful word from God. And you know, this is, as you mentioned earlier, this is the last words of Jesus, of all of the things that he could have left the disciples with and us with prior to his Ascension to heaven, he gave us these words and they are so powerful. What stands out to me in Matthew’s great commission? You know, he has a very developed sort of process of what should take place. He says go. So this is aspect of going out into the world to find them believers and make disciples, not just decisions. It’s not just enough for us to lead someone in a prayer. We want them to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. That’s what it means to be a disciple. And how does that happen through these two things? Primarily Jesus says to baptize them, this is sort of an initial physical demonstration of what God has done on the inside of a person, and then teaching them to obey everything I’ve commanded you. So while baptism is a onetime experience, teaching is something that’s going to happen continuously over the life of that individual. And it is this process that makes that person a disciple of Jesus Christ, what a powerful command from Jesus. And I love that
Daniel King (05:24):
Ending of it where Jesus promises to be with us in the midst of this great task that we are not in this buyer ourselves, that Jesus is with us. He says, I am with you always. And so sometimes when you have an opportunity to share your faith or to witness to someone, it can be a little bit intimidating. You don’t really know what to say. You’re worried someone might laugh at you. You’re worried about what people might think of you, but just to have that assurance that Jesus says I am with you always don’t about it. I’ve got you. I’ve got your back. And this is a great commission. Someone said, it’s not just a good suggestions. It is a command to every believer. This is not just a command for evangelists. You’re an evangelist, domino evangelists. We, we, we feel that call of God in our lives, but Jesus was not saying this specifically to evangelists.
Daniel King (06:22):
This is to every believer absolutely. To go. You’re not supposed to stay. You’re supposed to go. You’re supposed to make disciples. You’re supposed to baptize them. You’re supposed to teach them. Yes. So that’s such a wonderful passage to the next passage, right? At the end of the book of Mark Mark chapter 16, verse 15, Jesus said to them, go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe in my name, they’ll drive out demons, they’ll speak in new tongues. They’ll pick up snakes with their hands. And when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all. They will place their hands on sick people and they will get well. Yeah, what a fan.
Josh Wagner (07:15):
I asked a great commission. This is the longest and most developed of the five great commissions, which is sort of interesting because it’s found in Mark, which is the shortest of the five books in which great commissions are found. But you can see the emphasis that Mark placed on this developed great commission here. And as you can see something that stands out here is of course, Jesus says that as you go and fulfill this great commission, all these other signs are going to be present in your ministry. And I would say that in our own ministry we have in some way or another seen all of these things take place. Yeah,
Daniel King (07:52):
I would say that the gospel is not just declaration. It’s also demonstration in terms that my, my son who’s in fifth grade this year could understand it, show and tell that’s right. That we preach the gospel, but we also have signs following the preaching of God’s word.
Josh Wagner (08:12):
Yeah. In fact, that is exactly what verse 20 of Mark 16 says the last verse it says, then the disciples went out and preached everywhere. And the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. So there is a confirmation that we should expect to have when we preach the gospel, God is going to confirm his word with signs and wonders and miracles that was present in the ministry of Jesus. It was present in the ministry of the disciples. And we should expect no less when we preach the gospel
Daniel King (08:42):
Well today. So I got a question for you. You’ve gone to a lot of different countries. How many countries have you gone to any country about 20 countries now, as you, you preach the gospel, have you ever had a chance to cast out? Yes. We’ve,
Josh Wagner (08:56):
We’ve cast out many demons over the years. Yes. Have you ever seen people speak with new tongues? Yes. We have done that.
Daniel King (09:03):
Now. This is the controversial one. Have you ever picked up a serpent? So, so I, I think that
Josh Wagner (09:09):
No, to answer your question shortly. No, but the principle here is that even if animals were to try to hurt you in some way, as we see, for example, in acts 28, when Paul is on the Island of Malta and a Viper bites him, he is not harmed. And, and I believe that that’s, what’s saying here, and certainly we’ve experienced that too. Being, you know, in, in instances, maybe I’m in a malaria filled area where there’s all these mosquitoes and we get bit by mosquitoes, but we don’t have malaria. God protects us from these sorts of things. I’ve run away from him
Daniel King (09:44):
Serpent before. Well, there you go. Exactly. The wisdom of Jesus. When Satan tempted him applies to this situation too, he says, says, when, when Satan asked him to jump off the temple, what did Jesus say? Do not put the Lord, your God to the test, do not put the Lord your God to the test. So you don’t need to prove your faith. That’s right. Picking up syrup on stats, right? But it says, if you drink any deadly
Josh Wagner (10:08):
Poison, it won’t hurt you. And I’m not deliberately right.
Daniel King (10:11):
Drink any deadly poison. But sometimes when you’re on the mission field, you get offered stuff. And you’re like, I’m not sure where that came from.
Josh Wagner (10:20):
Well, in, in our line of work, Daniel, oftentimes we are offered things. We don’t know what’s in there. And even if it could be safer, the locals, it may be, wouldn’t be safe for us. We always tell people do not drink the water, but sometimes these things are offered to you and you do it’s unavoidable. And and I, I, and doubtedly think that the Lord has in many cases, protected me from parasites or amoebae or any number of things that would hurt and harm me in foods and in drinks. And undoubtedly here we are still to this day, healthy and happy.
Daniel King (10:53):
And then the last part of the verse, it says they’ll place their hands on sick people and they will get, well, have you ever seen that happen?
Josh Wagner (11:00):
We’ve seen Jesus do so many miracles just as he did all throughout his earthly ministry. We see him doing it again through us today.
Daniel King (11:07):
And so Hebrews 13, eight says, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Yeah.
Josh Wagner (11:12):
The same Jesus who healed people
Daniel King (11:15):
In the gospels is alive today. And he continues to heal people today. That’s right. All right. Let’s go to the end of the book of Luke, Luke chapter 24,
Josh Wagner (11:28):
[Inaudible] verse 47,
Daniel King (11:32):
Jesus says repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
Josh Wagner (11:45):
Yes. So this is a, a very more concise version, but it’s still got the same elements of the commission. Jesus is sending us as his ambassadors. He says, you are witnesses of these things. I want you to think about a witness in the terms of a trial in a courtroom. A witness is somebody who tells what they have seen, what they have observed. We would say that there is you know, in a, in a, if you’re in a courtroom scene, or if you’ve maybe watched a show that has a courtroom scene, they bring these witnesses to tell about their own experiences, eye, witness accounts, these sorts of things. That’s what Jesus is asking us to do in the great commission. He’s asking us to be his witnesses and what are we to witness about the repentance for the forgiveness of sins that we are to preach to all nations. We are to tell people about what we have seen Jesus do, what we’ve experienced in our own lives and in so doing, we are fulfilling that great commission.
Daniel King (12:45):
That’s awesome. Recently, I I recently heard Reinhardt Bunky preach. Yeah. Before he went to heaven. Yes, it was a little while ago. And he says a witness only tells what he has seen or experienced. He does not give speeches. He does not debate. The witness becomes a living piece of evidence. The living Jesus needs living witnesses. And he says, I want to be a living piece of evidence that Jesus is alive.
Josh Wagner (13:19):
Amen. And bunkies words of course continue to ring true. And
Daniel King (13:23):
It’s really interesting in this passage, it says repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And so right here at the end of Luke, Luke is already setting up the themes for what he’s going to talk about in the book of acts. Because of course, Luke wrote both Luke and the book of acts. And so he’s talking about witnesses, he’s talking about how you’re going to begin in Jerusalem. So he’s, it’s kind of like the end of the blockbuster movie where they give a hint of what’s going to come in the next, right. That’s a great way of saying it. All right, let’s turn over to John chapter 20 verse 21, where we have the Johanne nine great commission. It says, again, Jesus said, peace. Be with you. As the father has sent me, I am sending you. Yes. And with that, he breathed on them and said, receive the Holy spirit. If you forgive anyone, his sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.
Josh Wagner (14:32):
Yes. So this is a fantastic, great commission. Jesus, you know, he says as the father has sent me, so I am sending you. So it speaks to the way in which we are to be fulfilling the great commission. Now, I want you to think about this. As the father sent me, sent Jesus, how did the father send? He sent Jesus as an, as his son to earth. He left the comforts of heaven to go to a different land, to, to be amongst a different people, to learn, you know, learn to what it is to be among them. Jesus is really God’s missionary to earth.
Daniel King (15:09):
Wow, that’s a great point.
Josh Wagner (15:11):
And so we are to be going in the same way that God sent Jesus. Now he wants to send us. So that’s why we can’t just be content to stay. You know, I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I can’t be content to just stay in Tulsa, just as Jesus was not content to stay in heaven. We have to go and a theme in a lot of these great commissions to go into all the world, to go into all the nations. We have to start in Jerusalem, start in your hometown. But eventually we have to reach the entire world just as Jesus did for us.
Daniel King (15:41):
That’s beautiful. I think it’s really cool here. It says again, Jesus said, so here we have confirmation that Jesus was saying this over and over and over again. It’s really interesting how each of the gospels records this a little bit differently. It’s like Jesus was preaching one sermon and one person wrote it down and then he preached another sermon and another person recalled it and then another person. And so John says, yeah, again, he said to us, as the father has sent me even so send I you. And so Jesus, during these 40 days between his resurrection, his in his Ascension really had this one thought on his mind and he repeated it over and over again. I know as a parent, sometimes I have to tell my kids to obey more than once. Does that happen to you, your parent? Yes, absolutely.
Josh Wagner (16:32):
In order for them to really get the point I’m trying to make, I often have to repeat it more than once and Jesus knows we need this.
Daniel King (16:40):
I think my mom told me one time, it takes a hundred repetitions before kids get it. And that may be true. It may be times I get frustrated. I was like, I already told you, why did it choose? Of course, of course, Jesus. He just patiently keep saying again and again to, and sending them out with this great commission. All right. The final place we find, this is at the beginning of acts chapter one, verse eight, it says, but you shall receive power when the Holy spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea in Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Yeah. What a fantasy
Josh Wagner (17:23):
Mastic scripture here. Jesus, you know, he, I love how he says that the power that the Holy spirit comes that gives us when he comes upon us. Notice the purpose for it is for evangelism. You know, this is one of the things that I share about is that we need to recognize the baptism and the power of the Holy spirit. It’s not just so we can speak in other tongues. It is primarily here, given Jesus says to empower believer, to have a boldness, to witness. And we see that happen all throughout the book of acts individuals like Peter and John and Paul and Barnabas and all throughout, they are having the supernatural boldness to share the gospel, to fulfill Christ great commission. It’s not something we could do on our own, in the natural, but by the power of the Holy spirit we can. And we do.
Daniel King (18:11):
I really liked the term that some of the professors at oral Roberts university have come up with to describe believers who are going in the power of the Holy spirit. So they, they call it empowered believers, spirit empowered believers. And that’s what we are. We are empowered by the Holy spirit man to share the gospel. Yes. He’s the one who gives us the ability to go into share our faith with others. That’s right. And it’s really interesting in this passage that it starts in Jerusalem, then it goes to Judea. Then it goes to some area and then the ends of the earth. What are your thoughts about that?
Josh Wagner (18:54):
Well, you know, Jerusalem was their hometown. He was where they were familiar. And that’s where you should begin. If you’re listening today and you may say, man, I, I don’t know how to get to Andy. I don’t know how to speak this language and you know, Africa or wherever. Well, that’s fine. You start where God has placed. You, you start in your Jerusalem and as you are faithful with little, then God will make you faithful with much. That’s the principle of scripture. So as they began to share in Jerusalem, then God said, okay, now to Judea, Judea was the greater area of Jerusalem Symeria, which was the next province sort of over if we were to use this in our vernacular here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it’s like starting Tulsa and then in Oklahoma and then in Texas, and then to the ends of the earth, there’s this progression as you become more and more comfortable doing this work God will take you to the ends of the earth, but wherever you are, start where you are. And that, that work, God will bless.
Daniel King (19:51):
It’s interesting that Jesus says you’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth, he doesn’t say first Jerusalem. Then he says, you’re supposed to do this. And you’re supposed to do that because some people have asked me, why would you go to people on the other side of the world when there’s people right here in Tulsa that are hungry or who have not been saved? And I would say, yes, we’d go to the people in Tulsa. We absolutely try to reach people here in our own city. And I did that on Saturday. I took an evangelism team out from one of the local churches here in Tulsa. And we went to a low income apartment housing area and we brought food. We knocked on doors and we probably knocked on about 40 doors. Prayed with people at every door, gave them food. And we had about 14 people pray us for salvation,
Josh Wagner (20:48):
Praise God. Yes, we, we start here in Tulsa, right?
Daniel King (20:54):
We don’t forget about ministering to the rest of the world too. In fact, one, one person said that the light that shines farthest shines brightest near at home.
Josh Wagner (21:04):
That’s a good way of saying it. Exactly. And I think the point you made is so important. You know, it’s not an either or it’s a, both, and we should be ministering in both Jerusalem, your hometown and to the ends of the earth. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
Daniel King (21:18):
So what advice would you give to someone who wants to obey the words of Jesus and wants to help to fulfill the great commission?
Josh Wagner (21:28):
Yeah. I mean, to take this example here, start where you are. You are around unbelievers all the time in your workplace at your school, or maybe family members or different individuals that, you know, that need Jesus, those people, God has placed them uniquely in your life. I can’t reach them the way you can, Daniel. You can’t reach them the way that, that this individual can. And so start with those individuals. Talk to your pastor, talk to your church, ask them about opportunities that they have for getting involved in ministering to people, lost people and just do everything that you can to, to look for unsafe people. You don’t have to look hard. You just go to your local Walmart and you’ll find lots of people who need Jesus and begin to step out in faith in boldness and obey the words of Jesus Christ.
Daniel King (22:14):
Gosh, thank you so much for being on the podcast. It’s great to have you as a guest. Thank you.