[Through Jesus we have received] grace and apostleship to bring about
the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:5-6)
The first Christmas was a mission trip. The mission trip of all mission trips. Jesus left the comforts of his home in heaven to come here, a foreign land. Why did he come? It was for nothing less than to inherit the nations as his own possession, drawing all men to himself. In the opening words of his great letter to the Romans, Paul says as much. Jesus “was descended from David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3)—reminiscent of the angel’s announcement that a Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in the city of David. And for what purpose? Nothing less than “to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (Rom. 1:5).
At the beginning of Jesus’ life, the nations, represented by the magi, came to worship him (recall Day 18). At the end of Jesus’ life on earth, Jesus said to the disciples, “Therefore, as you go, make disciples of all nations!” (Matt. 28:19). And at the end of history, this will come to completion as the nations are gathered together to sing praise to Jesus (Rev. 5:9; 7:9).
We rightly think of Christmas as a time for good-will and generosity to the poor. But what if we saw Christmas through a missional lens? Jesus left the comforts of his home. He became like the people he wanted to save. He preached hard truths to these people. He showed compassion and love to them. He sacrificed everything, even his own life, for them.
He’s the ultimate missionary who now calls his saved people to join and imitate him in reaching the nations. The question is not whether the mission will be completed. It will. The only question we face is whether or not we will be a part of it.
Scripture and Reflection Questions
Read Romans 15:8-21
- Read vv. 9-12. What do you make of these Old Testament passages that predict the Gentiles/nations will come to know Christ?
- Are you passionate about the renown of Christ among all the peoples of the world? If it passion is not as high as you’d like, how can you cultivate it?
- What opportunities do you have around you to spread the gospel? How might you engage with the spread of the gospel to the unreached?
- How can you orient your prayer life around God’s mission? What are some nations/peoples/missions that you can be praying for this Advent season and beyond?