Pastor Barry/ The Gathering This I Believe Series (#12 End) Our Great Commission to hear this message and others go to THEGATHERINGHG.COM
“GO!” Matthew 28:16-19a, John 17:14-21
We come to the end of our twelve week series, THIS I BELIEVE, with the last command of Christ to His church. We call it the Great Commission, but it can be summed up in one word, “Go!” I can relate to this one word commission because it was the one word unction that I got from evangelist, Ken Wright, who yelled it at me as I resisted God’s obvious call to come to Hawaiian Gardens and share the gospel. I had a million excuses not to “go” from the overseas mission field that we had been on for almost six months, but I knew very well what God wanted. My wife knew too, and she was willing to go. I was looking for any other word or direction from that evangelist as I approached him in that line, but all I could hear echoing in my mind was “Hawaiian Gardens”. The evangelist had spoken so calmly to everyone before me, but when it was my turn he laid his hands gently on me, paused for a moment, heaved a great sigh and then proclaimed firmly: “The desire in your heart is of the Lord, now go!” Our eyes opened and met. His were frowning. His hands sternly squeezed my shoulders and he shouted twice more in my face: “Go, go!” , and go we did and 35 years later here we still are obeying our Lord’s great commission in Hawaiian Gardens. Jesus commands us to “go!”
Like me and you, the disciples knew that they were to “go” and make disciples long before Jesus ever gave the great commission that we read in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus had shown them and told them over and over again in their three years with Him. You have heard it again and again from the pulpit. You can’t hear about Jesus without knowing His will. From Simon (Peter) and Andrews first call He said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), and all of them could never forget when their teacher washed their feet and proclaimed: “ I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:15-17). Any believer in Christ, let alone one who calls them-self a “disciple”, knows that we are to “Go”, but most go the other way.
Notice in our text how it says “but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17)? How could any of those eleven disciples had doubted after Jesus had just triumphed over such a terrible death? Doubt or not Jesus told them all to “Go!” It was a command not a suggestion. “All authority is His”, Therefore…”Go!” and it is not only a command for those eleven it is for all who would believe through their message (John 17:20). If we love Him we will keep His commands (John 14:15). Jesus commands us to “Go!”, but go where and do what?
“BE MY WITNESSES” Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8, Romans 1:16-17
Jesus makes it clear, He always makes His calling clear. He said:
- “make disciples of all nations” Jesus didn’t name the nations. He didn’t need to. The persecution that followed His ascension drove His followers (the Church) all over the world. What Jesus was telling them and us is wherever we live and wherever we go “make disciples” (disciplined ones who follow Christ) by being His witnesses in the power of the Holy spirit. Where we are is our Jerusalem, wherever we go is our Judea and Samaria. In America the nations are coming to us! Jesus told His early disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and then they would receive power to do the job. Now the Holy Spirit is within us from the moment we are “born again” (John 14:15-17, 26-27). We are not to be afraid (2 Timothy 1:7-8) but are to speak and live as His witnesses. In every way we are to “make disciples of all nations (peoples) ”. It is also important to note that Jesus said to make disciples (lit. disciplined ones) and not just converts. Out of a “contest” to win converts the church often tries to make Jesus more convenient. That’s what our culture is all about, not Jesus! (Matthew 16:24-26)
- “Baptizing them in the name…” Jesus named the father, Son and Holy Spirit. As the Church we are not to just do nice things with other nice religious people. We are to proclaim the one Triune God and bring people to the place where they will confess Him publicly through Baptism (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16). We are not to be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16-17). As the tide of popular opinion turns against Christianity we must stand firm and live out our faith loudly.
- “teaching them to obey everything” We teach by example, for that is how our Lord has taught us. We do not pick and choose what to teach or what to obey. The Bible is our eternal constitution and we shall live by it and teach others to obey it according to our Lord’s teaching ( 2 Timothy 2:15). Among those teachings are:
- Serving the Church with our gifts: We are to seek to know our gifts and use them to build up the church. No Christian should be content filling a seat alone. We are the Church not just in one. Ephesians 4:15-16
- Giving financially (cheerfully) to God’s work: It is our duty and pleasure to financially give to God’s work in our local church and in missions. How is God’s kingdom to come to earth if His people refuse to give to His work? 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
- Serving those outside of the church: It is our duty to represent God to the world and so we must go there. Unbelievers will not fill the Church so the Church must go to the unbelievers and minister Christ there. We must also go to those who are suffering hardships, “the least of these”. Matthew 25:34-40
“I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS” Matthew 28:20b, Acts 1:9-11
After Jesus gave this great commission to His disciples to “go” (or as Nike ™ would say “just do it!”) He was taken up before their very eyes…who was doubting then? As the angels said, “why stand looking into the sky.” There is work to be done Church before He comes back again. We can say it is our duty, for it is. We can say it is our command, for it is our great commission. Let us say it is our honor and privilege!