In Acts 1:8 Luke records Jesus’ last words to his disciples:
- Jerusalem – less than 2 months prior Jesus was killed
- Judea – faced oppossition there
- Samaria – not a favorite destination for Jews
- “ends of the earth” – Gentile country – again not a top destination for Jews
Some point to Luke’s structure and how he reverses the structure of his gospel here in Acts 1:8:
Gospel of Luke:
- “birth in the context of world history and Roman rule”
- Jesus in Galilee
Book of Acts:
- Judea & Samaria
- throughout the Gentile world (preaching by Paul all the way to Rome – which is probably the reason we never find out what happened to Paul in Acts. Luke was trying to show the reader that the message did in fact reach the “ends of the earth” just as Jesus said in 1:8 with Paul’s arrival at Rome.)
See Blomberg Jesus and the Gospels 143
While I do think this is significant in Luke’s structure I also think there is more here than a structural marker. Jesus has told them to go back into those strongholds of opposition and tell their opponents that they have just killed the messiah. Now that is a difficult task! We often look at Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal and marvel at the odds and the results. This is a far more precarious mission with larger implications and even more opposition. They are told to preach it all over the world with no modern technology or transportation! Impossible! From Jerusalem to Rome is at least a 2 month walk in one direction and that is just one-way not to mention to the “ends of the earth!” “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Isaiah does a nice job of putting the power of God into comparison with the nations Isaiah 40:12-15:
That is the God we serve and he can still do it today. Who has he sent our direction hoping we would give them a word from God? How many nations have been by our congregations or our homes or our places of work needing the life saving message of Jesus? We just need open eyes to see the spiritual harvest that God is sending our way every day. Some will say, “But isn’t that awkward to ask someone if they know Jesus or have a deep spiritual conversation with someone who is lost? How about we ask Peter and see how easy it was to talk to people guilty of the death of Jesus to let them know they killed the Messiah. Too often the focus of our mission becomes us and not Him. When he is the focus of all we do the impossible becomes reality. Let’s never be afraid to dream bigger and to rely on him more and ourselves less. Let us focus on what he can do and not on what we can do and open up our lives to be instruments for his purposes. Let us not be afraid of the opposition because nothing can oppose God’s purpose and plan.