MISSIOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS OF DAVID HESSELGRAVE Teaching “Kingdom of God” in Missionary Context


  • David Hesselgrave


The first thing that literally “jumps out” of the Sermon on the Mount is that the kingdom Jesus describes is profoundly different from any earthly kingdom.In addition, as God’s Son, the Lord Jesus was an absolutely unique “apostle” or missionary (cf. Heb. 3:1). He was the only missionary in the history of the world who could both describe and offer God’s Kingdom to the people to whom he was sent. The rest of us whom God calls to be missionaries can offer Christ and his gospel. But, obviously, we cannot offer his Kingdom as such.At the same time, as part of the “gospel” in the larger sense of that word, missionaries can and must teach the text before us (and other “kingdom texts”) as to its meaning and significance. After all, Jesus commanded us to “make disciples…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).That may sound easy, but I invite readers to look at Matthew 5:40-42, for example, and imagine how they would teach this text to first-time hearers, many of whom would delight in nothing more than having the missionary’s “tunic,” a “two-mile ride” and some extra money. At first this sounds humorous, but in poverty-stricken situations it can be both serious and heart-rending.