By John Larkins
The emphasis of the writings for this column has been to clarify the real meaning of Jesus Christ’s mission on earth. Reducing the scriptures to reveal His guiding light can be done by asking, “What Did Jesus Do?
Jesus’ 33 years on earth (during which we see glimpses of His childhood, mostly around 12 years of age when He was separated from His parents and found teaching in the temple) can be generalized as preaching and teaching, especially to His primary followers, the disciples. These men were gathered quite deliberately and oddly, and at least so far as is written, volunteered quickly and without questioning.
Think of this for a moment – these men seem to have been practicing Jews busy at making a living, yet they were “all in” for the man who, at least in one instance, merely said He would change them from fishermen into “fishers of men.” All the disciples had families of some sort. Peter was married but became a dedicated student of the “master.” This process of what can be labeled conversion and indoctrination, in hindsight, was establishing the leaders of the Church Jesus was establishing.
When you study how much traveling Jesus did in preaching (and intentionally converting Jews to His new Church), it is amazing to see what He was able to accomplish in just three years. From His various comments and somewhat shy actions, Jesus was very much afraid that Jewish leaders would kill Him before He could complete His Church formation. This did not include actually building an institution, but the personnel to lead the Church were vital and had to be trained.
However, the absolutely imperative action was that Jesus would endow this Church with the sanctifying grace that was unique to saving mankind from the fate caused by Adam and Eve’s sin. Only this Way would allow His Father’s plan to bring willing human beings into His Father’s kingdom of Paradise.
In today’s terms, we might call the four gospels an inspiring record of “Seminary.” In order for humans to qualify for salvation, they had to avail themselves of the Church as the dispenser of His wonderful saving gift. But wait! This Church was not just for the people living in 33 A.D.; it was to be the eternal source of salvation, not only in Israel but throughout the whole world.
Sadly, this mission has been only partially accomplished. Some might say that the current Church of about 1.2 billion members in many lands sounds rather successful. It obviously could be much better. The biblical teaching, generally called “The Great Commission,” is still incomplete. Jesus is quoted in both Mark and Matthew’s gospel on this matter. Matthew: 28: 18 – 20 says, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen’”
Matthew 16: 18 -19 says, “And I say unto thee, that thou are Peter… and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, whatsoever thou shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.”
So be it.
John Larkins was born in Oklahoma to an U.S. Army family. His education was in the Catholic Church and teaching in the United Methodist Church for 10 years. After 50 years of various positions in federal service at home and in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, John and his wife Carol live in Gadsden. His formal education includes a BS certified for science teaching, an MBA from the University of Missouri and an MPA from Jacksonville State University in public administration and environmental management. For the past 15 years, John evangelized on the street, door-to-door, in tent revivals, and church situations. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.