Most followers of Christ have heard the scripture…
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” – Matthew 28:19
We call it “the Great Commission” and most often we consider it to be part of the basic marching orders for being a follower.
So, I gotta ask ya… when is the last time you made a disciple in another nation?
Better yet, when is the last time you were in another nation?
So if that is the case then it sounds to me like we have look a little closer at this scripture.
First, let’s backup. What just happened?
We learned last week about the resurrection events. We learned that Jesus was not back at this point to spend a long period time or to make long drawn out lessons.
No, at this point Jesus is here to be sure that those who where closest to him know the prophesies have been fulfilled. So when Jesus speaks to His friends in these moments he isn’t making small talk and he isn’t wasting time.
Luke describes it this way, “After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” – Acts 1:3
He is giving his marching orders to His troops.
In fact, you might think of them as orders to his Special Forces.
Matthew 28:16-19 16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations
16 – Meet me at a special pre-designated place
17 – The special forces declare their loyalty
18 – The chief lays out the new power structure
19 – The marching orders are given
Sir, Yes Sir
I just return from Headquarters and the entire project has been put in my hands
Sir, Yes Sir
You mission, should you choose to accept it, is to leave here and visit all of the nations of the earth. When you get there you are to teach them the Way, the same Way that I taught you.
Jesus doesn’t say to the world, “Come to the church.”
In a lecture at Yale, Gene Bartlett tells a story that amplifies the issue with just coming to Church.
The story is of a little lady who was taking the grand tour of Europe. She had saved and saved to take this trip and she was living it to the fullest.
When she came to Westminster Abbey she took a tour and an she toured the beautiful rooms, saw that awe inspiring sanctuary, and listened to the stories of the heroes of the faith that walked the halls, she became increasingly troubled.
Finally she became so frustrated that she could not hold her tongue.
She exclaimed; “Young man, all this is very interesting, but I what I want to know is: Has anyone been saved here recently?”
The problem is that if we build beautiful Churches and all faithfully come here every week, that doesn’t save a single new soul. If we buy beautiful furniture and place gold plaques on them honoring the saints who donated them, build great café space with flat screen TV’s so that we can fellowship, we can even put great sound and video in our sanctuary.
The question remains: “Young man, all this is very interesting, but I what I want to know is: Has anyone been saved here recently?”
“Pastor Todd said Jesus didn’t say go to Church” – WRONG!
Obviously not, Jesus is found again and again speaking of or in the Church.
Jesus spends huge amounts of time in worship, in prayer, and in teaching the word. He did a great deal of that in the Church building. . “Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching.” – Matt 26:55
So it’s wrong to say that His only command was to Go. But the question that is brought to us by our lady friend at Westminster is how many NEW followers are created within these walls?
We will seldom create a new follower of Jesus Christ within the confines of these walls. We will worship, we will praise, we will be edified, and we will be filled by the Holy Spirit of God.
But will seldom create a new follower until we “GO!”
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
No, Jesus doesn’t say to the world, “Come to the church.”
Jesus told the Church to “Go”
Today at The Crossing we spend our day concentrating on what we of the modern church call “missions”. We are setting our plan through Faith Promise (http://home.snu.edu/~HCULBERT/faithfaq.htm)
When we think of missions many people think we need to concentrate on the local Church instead. I would like to propose that this is not an either or situation.
In the local Church we have a giant role to play. Like the port that chips return to we offer fuel, we offer education, we offer regeneration, and most of all we off a place to call home to our God.
But again I ask us to look at the situation that brought the great commission.
God has called for Special Forces. Like in the prophesy of Isaiah.
Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
These people who are in the mission field are those Special Forces, those special people who Jesus has called to meet him on the mountain. Those he has given a special call to Go.
The question that remains for us is this, “all this is very interesting, but how much of your energy has been put on getting someone saved recently?”
So we can’t all get on a boat or a plane and take the Way to the all nations. But today we are going to take some time to learn how you can be the force behind the mission they are on.
Paul who was a missionary to the world known as the Roman Empire put it this way,
4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[a]faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
This is our opportunity to contribute to the needs of others, let him give generously.
I’ll finish by quoting Jesus:
Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”