Is it possible so to emphasise Jesus’ Great Commission that we neglect his stress on the Great Commandment to love our neighbours (second only to loving God with our entire beings)?
John Stott thought so. Here’s what he wrote about it:-
‘I venture to say that sometime, perhaps because it was the last instruction Jesus gave us before returning to the Father, we give the Great Commission too prominent a place in our Christian thinking. Please do not misunderstand me. …
Six aspects of the gospel stand out in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8:-
1. It is Christological. It centres on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ: these emphases are ‘of first importance’, v3. Christianity is Christ: and it is Christ crucified and risen.
2. It is biblical. The work of Christ was achieved ‘according to the Scriptures, v3,4. Cf. Lk 24:25-27,44-46; Acts 2:25-31. ‘The first Christian evangelists made much of the fact that the death and resurrection of Jesus were corroborated by two witnesses – the prophets and the apostles, or, as we would say, the Old Testament and the New Testament.’
eternal purpose – we have been ‘predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son’ (Romans 8:29).
historical purpose – ‘we…are being transformed [or changed] into his image’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
eschatological purpose – ‘we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him’ (1 John 3:2).
Here, then, are three perspectives: past (we have been predestined), present (we are being changed), and future (we shall be like him), which all point to the same thing: that God wants us to be like Christ.…
‘The good pastor…models his ministry on the good shepherd,’ writes John Stott in The Contemporary Christian (pp 280-290). As such, he has the following characteristics:-
The good shepherd knows his sheep, Jn 10:3, 14f. He will know them by name, and he will know them personally and intimately.
The good shepherd serves his sheep, Jn 10:11. This is in contrast to false shepherds, who serve themselves, Eze 34:2; June 12. It may be unrewarding, sacrificial work, but he is following Jesus’ example in doing it.