Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He entrusted two great
commissions to His disciples: to preach the gospel, and to pastor His sheep.
The Lord’s disciples took up the first commission and preached the gospel from
Jerusalem, to Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). Why did these
disciples have such a fervent heart, overcoming all difficulties in order to
complete this commission? It was because they were effectively trained by Jesus.
When He had first begun to preach the gospel, Jesus chose and called His disciples
to follow Him. He later sent them forth to preach the gospel. Within the three
years of His ministry, He also spent time with them so that they could witness
His compassion—how He preached the heavenly gospel, revealed the authority of
the heavenly kingdom, healed the sick, cast out demons, fed the hungry, and
solved man’s problems. His resurrection and ascension gave man a living hope.
The disciples saw, heard and touched the manifested Christ. They had a deep
understanding and a vivid experience of the Lord Jesus (1 Jn 1:1–3). Preaching
the gospel was proclaiming the Lord Jesus who had dwelled with them. The
disciples each shared a deep love and a personal relationship with Him.
Preaching the gospel not only fulfills Jesus’ command, but repays His love. If
we preach with such a heart, then our deeds will be pleasing to the Lord.
Jesus asked Peter three times: “Do you love Me?” And three times, Jesus
commanded Peter to nurture His sheep (Jn 21:15–17). To love the Lord is to be
entrusted with the most important task of pastoring His sheep. Jesus is the Good
Shepherd, sacrificing His life for the sheep. When His love fills us, we can
love those whom He loves. Jesus’ greatest love was revealed on Golgotha.
Paul says, “For if we are beside
ourselves, it is for
God” (2 Cor 5:13a). By pondering over the salvation grace we have received,
counting God’s blessings, praying unceasingly, and submitting to the Holy
Spirit, we will be filled with the love of God, which enables us to make sacrifices
for the sheep. This is how Paul could genuinely care for the believers, spending
and being spent for them, watching and praying unceasingly for their spiritual
Accomplishing these two great commissions goes beyond studying theology,
or holding seminars on the duties of a disciple. What is more important is to
establish a personal relationship with Jesus. For He said, “If anyone loves Me,
he will keep My word” (Jn 14:23a). If we do this, then we can fulfill Jesus’
commission. He also instructed, “[Teach] them
to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you
always, even to the
end of the age” (Mt 28:20). If we, as disciples of Christ, establish a close and personal
relationship with Him, and zealously strive to accomplish the commission which He
has entrusted to us, He will continually sustain us in our service.