Thursday, August 25, 2016

Devotion on the Great Commission Matthew 28:16-20

The following is a guest blog written by hospice chaplain Paul Bricker
One of the most famous passages in the Bible is the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20.  I want to share a few thoughts about it, passage by passage.
It begins with verses 16-17:“But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.  And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him, but some were doubtful.”[1]
This passage shows the two types of Christians that should do the Great Commission.   The first are Christians who worship Jesus.  This is what one would expect.  Christians who worship Jesus should share the Gospel with others.  However, there is another type of Christian who should obey the Great Commission.  The second type of Christians who should obey the Great Commission are those Christians who doubt.  The Scripture clearly shows that the apostles who are given the Great Commission consist of those who worship the Lord Jesus and those who doubt.  The eleven were like this even though they had spent three years with Jesus and seen Him do mighty acts.  They saw Him crucified and they now see Him raised from the dead. Still some doubted.  They were acting like “Gomer Pyle” Christians:  “G-o-l-l-y, we are at this mountain that Jesus told us to come to. G-o-l-l-y, I wonder if this is really Jesus in front of us…”
What this means is that every Christian should share the Gospel.  All of us are either worshippers of Jesus or doubters of Jesus or some kind of combination of the two. The Lord Jesus commands us to “pray at all times and faint not” (Luke 18:1).  This is the same teaching.  We are either praying or fainting or some combination of the two.  The Lord Jesus is like a mother bird.  The baby birds might not enjoy leaving the nest.  The mother bird “encourages” them to fly.  The Lord Jesus is “encouraging” his disciples to share the gospel.
What this means is, no matter how tranquil one’s heart is, or how pressing life’s concerns are, or how sorrowful one is, or how sick one is, one needs to share the Gospel.  At one point I was house-bound with Lyme disease.  I could not get out to share the Gospel.  What I did was pray that God would have the right telemarketer to call.  When they called, I answered the phone by saying:  “I have been waiting for your phone call because I want to share with you what Jesus has done for me.”  I spoke with people all over the United States.  I had prayer with people who would share their burdens with me.  I did not feel like doing it, but I did it.
Verse18 explains:  “And after Jesus came up, he spoke to them saying: ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth’….”
This is the Great Assurance.  We battle personal powers, economic powers, political powers, spiritual powers.  In spite of these powers against us, we have a Savior who has all power.  When we are facing powers that look like they are going to do us in, we have a Savior who has all power.  This is a great assurance.
Verse 19a commands:  “Therefore, as you go, make disciples of all nations…”
Here we find the Great Commission.  The commandment is to make disciples of all nations.  The commandment is not simply “Go.”  This is not to say that missionaries are not to go.  What this passage is stating is that “As you go in life, you are to be making disciples….”  When you go to the dentist (try that with four hands in your mouth—I do), when you go grocery shopping (it is okay to buy groceries for the single mother who is ahead of you in line), when ….
When I went for my first mortgage, the broker asked me:  “Do you have any judgments against you?”  I looked him straight in the eye and quoted Romans 8:1:  “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  When I have talked to financial planners, they have asked me:  “Have you planned for your future?”  I have answered him by quoting John 3:16:  “For God in this manner loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Then I looked the financial planner in the eye and I asked:  “Have you planned your future?”
Verses 19b-20a say:  “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Here we find two participial phrases which describe how to make a disciple of the Lord Jesus.  The first is “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  I do not have extended classes before the baptism.  Teaching classes are included under the second participial phrase:  “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” However, I do explain the basics. I explain Romans 10:9-10 with a person who wants to become a Christian. I ask: “Can you confess with your lips: ‘Jesus is Lord’? Do you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead?” I also share that baptism is a sacrament which does not save you, but is a sign of being cleansed from sin: “You are being baptized because you have been cleansed from your sins.” Moreover, I share that they are being baptized not in the names (plural) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but in the name (singular) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is who God is. God is Father and Son and Holy Spirit, three Persons in one being. I share:  “You have become a Christian.  You need to show to the whole world that you belong to Christ.  Come Sunday and share with the whole world that you belong to Christ and invite your friends and be baptized.”  Baptize them as soon as possible.  Do not teach them that Christianity is a “sit down” religion.  It is an action religion.  It is a use-your-spiritual-gift religion.
The second participial phrase is:  “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”  This is very specific.  Teach a new believer what Jesus has commanded the apostles. Many Protestants have a canon within a canon.  They think that the real teaching is in the letters of the New Testament.  Often times Protestants hurry up and read the Gospels and Acts so that one can start reading the real teaching--the letters.  In this passage we find that we should teach new believers the commandments that Jesus gave to the disciples.  Make a list of Jesus’ commandments and study them.
Verse 20b concludes:  “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the ages.”
This is the Great Assurance #2.  The Lord Jesus is with us and meets with us when we share the gospel. Earlier I shared how the Great Commission is given to those Christians who worship the Lord and for those Christians who doubt the Lord.  Often I am full of doubt.  I have a troubled heart.  I am fainting and not praying.  I am often that “Gomer Pyle Christian.” I have little internal consolation.  I do not worry one bit about such a condition.  I go and share the Gospel anyway.  When I share the Gospel under such lack of internal consolation, something happens.  I fellowship with Jesus.  I go to share the Gospel and this part of the passage comes alive to me.  I experience His presence.  I experience “I am with you always, even to the end of the ages.”
Now go share the Gospel.

[1] My translation of Matt. 28:16-20.