Imagine Joshua walking ahead of the tribes of Israel, after he’s conquered all of the lands of the promised land. Behind him, crowds are celebrating their victories. He doesn’t realize they’re there. He’s deep in thought.
All of the sudden, a baby starts crying. He turns around and realizes thousands of people still followed him. He stops and looks at the crowd. They collide against one another like a train slamming on its brakes.
Angered by the sight of thousands of people squandering the land they received by the shedding of the blood of mighty men, he says,
“How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you?” (Joshua 18:3)
The Christian’s Call to Arms
Thousands of years later, Jesus stood with his disciples, and said,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
Joshua vs. Jesus
- A bunch of nomads followed Joshua; prostitutes, tax collectors, and other sinners followed Jesus
- The promised land was won by the shedding of blood of might men; Jesus won the victory by the shedding of His blood
- Many of the Israelites continued to follow Joshua even after their victories; Jesus’ disciples followed Him after He rose again.
- Joshua told the Israelites to “Go and possess . . . . ;” Jesus told His disciples to “Go and make . . . .”
Go and possess
What did Christ die for that Christians could “Go and possess”? “Make disciples . . . Baptizing them . . . teaching them . . .”
For thousands of years, the Jewish people looked for a Messiah who would be a conquering warrior. They expected a savior who would lead them into victory over their oppressors. Perhaps, when Jesus came back again, they thought, ‘If this guy can conquer death, He can conquer the entire Roman military.’
Just as the Israelites lost sight of the victory they won by the shedding of innocent blood, the disciples lost sight of their victory in Christ by the shedding of His innocent blood.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, and whatever you ask the Father in my name He may give you.
By the time we read the words in Joshua 18:3 it was a different generation than the one that marched around Jericho. The generation that marched around Jericho had a victory mindset. This generation had no purpose or direction in life, so they continued to follow Joshua.
In the same way Joshua tried to convince this generation to live with a victory mindset, Jesus needed to convince a handful of people who lived among a “wicked and adulterous generation . . . . (Matt. 16:4)” to not just go back to their day to day routines. The disciples lost sight of the victory they had in Christ, so Christ reminded them of their victory in Him (Matt 16:19; 18:18).
What is “the land” Jesus died for? He says “all nations.”
Those people who watched the Israelite armies march in authority and victory trampling other nations decided they’d rather be part of the victory than part of the defeat. The Christian’s call to arms is about walking in the victory of Christ. It is about knowing that as you walk in that victory, people around you will see your testimony, want the victory you have, and join you in that victory.
To call Christ’s final words to His disciples “The Great Commission” doesn’t do his words justice. To commission someone is to give them authority for a particular action. Christ wasn’t giving His disciples authority for a particular action. He was challenging them to change their mindsets. He was telling them to live in the victory He gave them through His death and resurrection.
Are you living in victory? What do you need victory over?