It’s been demonstrated on many occasions that the crowds in Jesus’ day were easy prey to false gods when left without proper care. The masses were like helpless sheep wandering aimlessly without a shepherd. They were willing to follow almost anyone that came along with some promise for their welfare, be it friend or foe. That was the tragedy of the hour – the noble aspirations of the people were easily excited by Jesus, but just as quickly thwarted by the deceitful religious authorities who controlled them. The spiritual blind leaders of Israel, though few, completely dominated the affairs of the people.For this reason, unless Jesus’ converts were given competent people of God to lead them on and protect them in the truth, they would soon fall into confusion and despair, and the last state would be worse than the first.
It all comes back to His disciples. They were the vanguard of His enveloping movement. Through them He expected others to believe on Him and these in turn to pass the word along to others, until in time the world might know who He was and what He came to do. His whole evangelistic strategy – indeed, the fulfillment of His very purpose in coming into the world, dying on the cross, and rising from the grave – depended upon the faithfulness of His chosen disciples to this task.
Jesus had built into His disciples the structure of a Church that would challenge and triumph over all the powers of death and hell. It had started small, like a grain of mustard seed, but it would grow in strength until it became a tree. Jesus did not expect that everyone would respond, but He did foresee the day when the Gospel of salvation in His Name would be proclaimed convincingly to every person.
His Church would win in the end. Nothing could permanently prevail against it —
“And I tell you, you are Peter [Greek, Petros—a large piece of rock], and on this rock [Greek, petra—a huge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it].” – Matthew 16:18
It’s mentioned to the disciples with the exception of Thomas, on the first Easter evening as they’re assembled in the Upper Room. After Jesus showed the astonished disciples His nail-scarred hands and feet, and had partaken of the meal with them, He then said —
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” – John 20:21
A little later, as Jesus had breakfast with His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, He told Peter three times to feed His sheep.
On the mountain in Galilee, He gave His Great Commisson to, not only the eleven disciples, but also to the Church, numbering then about 500 people. It was a clear proclamation of His strategy of world conquest —
“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
Finally, before He ascended back to the Father, Jesus went over the whole thing again with His disciples for the last time, showing them how things had to be fulfilled while He was with them. His suffering and death, as well as His resurrection on the third day, was all according to schedule. Jesus went on to show His disciples —
‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ – Luke 24:47
They were to be the human instruments announcing the good tidings, and the Holy Spirit was to be God’s personal empowerment for their mission —
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
Clearly Jesus did not leave the work of evangelism subject to human impression or convenience.