Following Jesus’ trial and execution the disciples were a defeated rabble. If it had been left to them to take up the mission of Jesus, the movement he founded would never have survived. Peter and Andrew, for instance, would have spent the rest of their lives rebuilding their fishing business.
Instead, just as the Roman and Jewish authorities were sure the crisis sparked by Jesus was over, it was upon them again, in a new form. The crucified Messiah was among his followers, alive and continuing his ministry.
Over a period of forty days, Jesus drew his disciples together, he picked up the pieces, he resumed leadership, he instructed them. Jesus commanded them to take the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. He promised his presence and power through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus leads them into new missionary challenges (Acts 10:13-15; 11:20-21, 24). He confirms their preaching with miracles performed in his name (Acts 9:34; 14:3). When they are persecuted, he comes to them personally and encourages and protects them (Acts 18:9-10; 23:11; 22:17-21).
His followers, empowered by the Spirit, proclaim his word, and the result is an expanding movement of new disciples and churches.
Jesus rose from the dead and resumed his mission. He gathered his followers and taught them the significance of his death and resurrection. He sent them out in the power of the Holy Spirit. Their mission was a continuation of his mission.
The implications are clear, there is only one mission, the mission of the Risen Lord. He invites us to follow him and participate in the fulfilment of his mission. As his word advances, new disciples are made and new churches are formed. The obstacles are immense, yet Jesus’ presence and power ensures the gospel’s advance throughout the world.