Commissioned: Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain Jesus told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and 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. Matthew 28:16-20
Jesus Prays: My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:20-21
When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him. Acts 28:16
For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance! Acts 28:30-31
The book of Acts ends with Paul chained to a soldier in his own rented house in Rome. However, he was not prevented from teaching about Jesus Christ and proclaiming the kingdom of God to anyone and everyone who visited him. And the soldiers who rotated through as guards must have heard Paul’s message many times over. Philippians 1:13 mentions that the palace guard and everyone had learned that he was in chains for Christ. And people would be talking about Paul and coming to see him and hear the message and it would spread.
Looking back to Acts 2:5-11 we see that the people who heard about Jesus were from many parts of the known world. In Acts 2:41 we see that about 3,000 people believed and became disciples. From then until Stephen was stoned many more people joined the disciples, brought by both the preaching and teaching, and also by the life example of the apostles and other believers. Then, after Stephen was stoned and persecution broke out against the church, all but the apostles scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
And these believers took the message back, probably to the place they came from. And the gospel spread slowly, by word of mouth, by letters, by the writings that would become Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the letters from Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude and those who received them and the daily living of people through the centuries and now to us.
Most especially, Jesus was praying for each of us before his crucifixion and as the risen and ascended Christ, seated with his Father, he is praying for each of us by name now! Think about this! Jesus is praying for you! By name! Let the wonder of that wash over you, especially now as we head into the Advent season. Jesus, whose birth we will celebrate soon is with his Father, praying for you.
By Carolyn Schmitt