A Perfect Portrait

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”[1]

On a Sabbath morning more than two thousand years ago, Jesus read these words to those gathered in the Nazareth synagogue. He then declared, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”[2] That Sabbath, the Greatest Missionary of all time announced the beginning of His mission. What was His mission? To glorify God by saving mankind.[3] To demonstrate to the universe that God is love.[4] For the next three and a half years, He preached the gospel, healed the brokenhearted, and set spiritual captives free.[5] With every word and action, He comforted those who were spiritually mournful, giving them “beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”.[6] He came not only to show humanity the Father, but to restore in every heart the character of God, that every man and woman, young and old, could be recreated in God’s image—the very purpose of education—and live on the earth made new.[7] 

His mission field was difficult. Jesus came into a world marred by thousands of years of sin. The deep degradation into which man had fallen as a result of sin made Jesus’ mission field much worse and more dangerous than that of a missionary working among cannibals. Self-righteousness and pride had blinded the eyes of many and they could not see their great need for the gospel of Jesus. Even many of those who followed Him were just merely curious or seeking a miracle worker or savior from the Romans, and when they realized that Jesus did not fulfill their desires, they stopped following Him. Many rejected Him and His gospel. Not only was He rejected, but several of the leading men of His mission field became jealous of His influence and hated Him so passionately that they brutally murdered Him.

His mission field was all around Him. Jesus administered the gospel to the Jews who were poor in Spirit, and He freed the Gentiles who longed to be set free from sin. Whether He was in Galilee, Judea, or the heathen countries that surrounded Israel, Jesus ministered to the people in that place. He did not seek to travel to Alexandria in Egypt, one of the greatest centers of knowledge and commerce at the time, or Rome, the capital of the Roman empire. Instead, He systematically labored within His own country and the other nearby countries. While He ministered to thousands of individuals, He especially labored for twelve men for three and a half years so that when He was no longer among men they could continue His mission.

Jesus is our Example. We are called to fulfill His mission in the same way He did. Wherever in the world God has placed us, that is the mission field God would have us wholeheartedly labor in (Santos). The mission field won’t be easy, but He has already trod the ground before us, and He will sustain our faith (Dizon-Boo). No matter how long it takes, no matter how much effort, we must labor with the thoroughness of Jesus, one soul at a time (Homan). For we are called to minister in the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s heart to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people (Ratcliff).

This issue, Crowning, is a call to follow the great Example, Jesus Christ, in missionary service. The people we are called to serve will be just as difficult and unreceptive, perhaps even as hostile, to us as they were to Him. Ours is a high calling, but God has given us principles that we might be educated to be true missionaries, and He has promised to fill us with the Holy Spirit. It is our duty to daily learn in the school of Christ and seek to bring our lives into harmony with the principles of true education, which will prepare us to be missionaries after His order. The work is indeed great and the laborers few; but the Lord of the harvest is faithful.

He has led: Will you follow? He is calling: Will you answer?

[1] Isa. 61:1–3
[2] Luke 4:21
[3] John 17:1–2
[4] 1 Jn. 4:16
[5] Isa. 61:1
[6] Isa. 61:3
[7] Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1903), 15.

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