Jesus began selecting His prospective disciples from the beginning of His ministry (Mt. 4:18, 21; Jn. 1:40-49). They had been observing all He had been doing. With the twelve selected “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness” (Mt. 9:35) . Having no modern transportation available, all the proclamation, evangelizing, healing, and teaching happened while they were walking around. Jesus saturated Israel with the gospel. It was all villages and towns. And proclamation was His method of broadcasting the gospel to the masses.
For Jesus, the spiritual harvest could be best addressed by training more proclamation evangelists and others for evangelism. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (9:36). After getting a pulse of the situation, Jesus declares, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” (v. 37). In any vocation, trade, or ministry, training is part of one’s progress and improvement. Our greatest motivation for training evangelists is our Lord Himself.
In Matthew 10 we see Him choosing twelve to train so He could multiply His efforts during His short three years and to continue it afterwards. Jesus called, gave authority, and sent them out “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness” (Mt. 10:1-2, also Lk. 9:1; Mk. 6:6).
Why was it important to give authority before commissioning? The knowledge of following the orders of the great I AM, the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Rev. 19:16), provides them and us with the greatest encouragement needed to obey the Great Commission. With that authority, it is probably that the demons, the powers of this world, listened. In Acts 1:8 the apostles were to “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.” In Mt. 28:19, we see Jesus had “All authority in heaven and earth”. It was this authority Jesus gave His disciples and gives us today. This is a charge, command, and order to proclaim the gospel1 and to make disciples.
“These twelve (apestelein)2 Jesus sent out.” (v. 5) Jesus wanted more than twelve to carry the gospel. Therefore, “… the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them, two by two, ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go.” (Lk. 10:1 also Mk. 6:7)
Why should we go two-by-two? We can be of encouragement to the other (Ecl. 4:9-10); we are not always excited about evangelism; we have a prayer partner; there is accountability; we keep each other reminded of our calling and it helps to keep the focus; we can respond to questions and situations together; we can provide another perspective of a situation; any credit is shared; protects us from individualism; provides protection from harm. At least once in my life, my colleague protected me from being beaten up!
Jesus seldom trained anyone in evangelism in a classroom or in a seminar. It was learned through association and observation – by just being with Him (Mk. 3:14). Jesus commands His evangelists, “As you go, proclaim (kerussete) the gospel” (Mt. 10:7; 9:35;10:27; 11:1 also see Mk. 6:12). Matthew uses the Greek word kerusso3 four times in a span of forty-five verses. To proclaim4, in the Biblical context, is to declare, announce, propagate, or disseminate the gospel outside the walls of a church to the lost.
We derive our word evangelism from the Greek word euaangelizo or eunagelitzomai and it means to bring good news. Lk. 9:6 “So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming (euanggelizomenoi) the good news, …” All evangelism will lead to some coming to repentance and faith in Christ (Ac. 17:32-34). The disciples were not responsible for the reception of the message or the conversion of those they shared the gospel with (Mt. 10:13-15; Lk 9:5), their responsibility was to proclaim. However, the new believers (Mt. 28:19-20) must be discipled into the local church.
Today, is no different. Wherever we are, the herald-evangelist and God’s Saints in the church are to saturate the villages, towns, cities, countries, and the world with the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings the lost sinner into relationship. It converts, transforms, makes new creations, regenerates, impacting one’s values and a change in worldviews begins – being born again! When we want to see individuals and society change, the gospel is the answer.
However, while it is good news for the recipient, Jesus sends us, the sheep, to the wolves! So, while we share the gospel, we are to be watchful. Be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves (Mt. 10:16). Some may be fearful of persecution and even death. But, Jesus fought fear with the greater fear of the “One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt. 10:28) In some countries, it could be illegal to share the gospel; we could be hated and ridiculed for it (Ac. 2:13; 17:18), but we shouldn’t be ashamed because of it, as therein lies the power of the gospel to convert (Rom. 1:16). There will always be opposition to the messenger. Jesus our master experienced it too (Mt. 10:24-26).
Check out this article about the different evangelism pathways.
1 Lk. 24:47 and Mk. 16:15.
2 We get our word apostle from this.
3 The Greek word kerusso and its cognates is used sixty-one times in the Greek and it is never used in the context of the Temple, Synagogue or in a household, where Christians or Jews met in the NT. Instead, it was always used in the context of the open-air. See, Kumar Abraham’s Unleashing the Power of Proclamation
4 This word is also translated preaching, telling, announcing in various English translations.
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