Mission and Growth Jesus’s call for the whole Church; Psalm 105:1-7, Acts 4:23-31 and Matthew 28:16-20
Sunday 01/11/20 All Saints Lydiard Millicent
In Matthew 28:16-20 The Great commission of Jesus clearly speaks out the Church’s mission to preach the Gospel, make and teach new disciples, and form new churches through baptism, in the name of the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.
Jesus actually commissioned his disciples a number of times, in fact the Great commission in some form is spelt out in each of the 4 gospels (not just in Matthew) and also in Acts.
Mark 14:15-16 “ Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation, whoever believes and is baptized will be saved but whoever does not believe will be condemned”
Luke 24:47- 49 “and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all the nations beginning in Jerusalem”
John 20:21-23 “Again Jesus said Peace be with you as the Father has sent me I am sending you, and with that he breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit if you forgive anyone their sins, their sins are forgiven, if you don’t forgive them then they are not forgiven”
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth”
So, it is clear then, that Matthew 28:16-20 is not an isolated set of verses detached from what the rest of the Gospels and New Testament is saying. The message is consistent ; Jesus meant the Gospel and Mission and Church to be global.
I looked up my notes from when I was at All Nations Christian College Ware Hertfordshire on mission and evangelism, and found this:
“By this activity and preaching and proclaiming announcing and witnessing we will bring people under the sound of the gospel and they will be saved, will enter the Kingdom, be added to the Church and will have the privilege of belonging to the household of faith the family of God”
Here are some key verses on mission and growth that tie in with above statement.
“As the scripture says everyone who call son the name of the Lord will be saved”
Acts 2:21 “And then whoever call out to the Lord will be saved”
John 1:12 “Some however did receive him and believed in him, so he gave them the right to become God’s children”
Colossians 1:13 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son he loves”
1 Peter 2:9
“But you are a chosen people, a Royal priesthood, a Holy Nation”
So Matthew 28:16-20 we can safely say is not a bright idea that Matthew stuck on to his Gospel to make it have a nice ending, instead we can conclude that our Gospel reading sums up all that is written in Matthew’s Gospel from Chapter one to twenty eight. The magi who came to see Jesus are the hint of gentiles to come .The sermon on the Mount is the core of the teaching that will help make disciples, and on through the Gospel .You make your own notes! One of my favourite commentators on Matthew the Jesuit writer , Daniel Harrington says.
“it is possible to view Matthew 28:16-20 as a summary of the whole gospel. Jesus whose story has been told throughout the Gospel appears as the risen Lord who is worthy to be approached in an attitude of homage and worship”.
That is why in Matthew 28 Jesus allows his disciples to worship him, no more messianic secret – the cat is out of the bag- Now his disciples know Jesus for who he is, the very Son of God who has defeated death, and yet Matthew honestly records that some doubted, not I believe out of disbelief, but because they simply thought it impossible, at first, that Jesus of Nazareth had risen from the dead and stood before them. And Its Jesus who makes the first move and walks towards them not them to him.
Everything significant in Matthew sems to happen on mountains and that is the case now and in Matthew’s gospel the other thing to note is the use of the word disciple or disciples the word is used in Matthew over 72 times second only to John’s 80. For Matthew and John, both writers of Gospels who were also apostles the word disciple is important. They have met him on the Mount of the sermon and the Mount of transfiguration, they have heard his teaching, seen a new radical lifestyle revealed, they have seen his glory, and now on a mountain once again they get the great commission.
So, from here we see
The command to GO
Command: make disciples
Of Ta Ethne; all Nations
Baptize them in the name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit
Promise; I am with you always.
In a sense Matthew 28;16-20 is Jesus’s victory speech to his previously disillusioned defeated and grief-stricken disciples, now down to 11 men. The death of Jesus must have seemed an appalling end, one of shame and horror, all hope squashed out during those agonising hours on the cross. But just as Samson’s hair began to grow back when the Philistines thought he was in jail and finished, so the death of Jesus was not an end but a new beginning. And now Jesus is back victorious from the realm of the dead has battled with the forces of darkness, despair, and death and won. It is Jesus who walks towards his disciples thus bridging the gap between those who are in death and those who have life ,he is the first born from the dead and so all authority is given to him not just in earth but in heaven; there is a universe wide dimension to what Jesus now says:
All authority on heaven and earth is now given unto me But first there is a job to and and it is the disciple’s job not his. This is the task of taking the gospel out of its Jerusalem haven to the world, and as Acts says there would be battles to come as the apostles were forced to realize the Gospel was for all human kind not just Jews.
Other than John all 10 other disciples would learn that being a disciple of Jesus meant they would have to lay down their life for Jesus. They would be crucified just like their Lord and Saviour, others tortured to death in other cruel ways. Roll over Star wars! the first years of the Christian story were a real story of the Empire striking back! as Rome sought to quell this uppity sect calling itself at first the Way then followers of Jesus, and then known as Christians (from Acts 11 onwards) literally Christ followers, those who were of Christ.
So, Jesus says GO! In the Old testament generally, the instruction was stay, stay and be holy, demonstrate to the nations that you are set apart, know, and obey my laws, follow me. But even then, some got a hint of bigger things Abraham left Ur to go to Canaan. Joseph was Sent in slavery to Egypt but ended up being the saviour of his brothers. Jonah goes to Nineveh. Ezekiel seeks to be with the exiled people of Israel in Babylon. Jeremiah returns to besieged Jerusalem; Isaiah catches a vision of the needs of the nations. Gideon does battle with the Midianites, Samson fights the Philistines; all these were precursors of the spreaders of the Gospel those who first got the Fire of Christ inside them and were impelled to go and tell others the good news of the Gospel.
Above all the Judeo-Christian faith was and is this: it was never primarily about self-meditation it was never about the individual, it was a faith and is a faith that DOES things. The word Go takes up 3 pages of my Strong’s exhaustive concordance of the Bible. So Christian we are found by God, we worship, we learn from Jesus’s teaching’s and then we GO!
William Carey one of the first missionaries to India said “Expect great things from God attempt great things for God” Amy Carmichael who also served in India said “We will have eternity to celebrate the victories but only a few hours before sunset to win them”
Can anyone go? Yes! Hudson Taylor, the great pioneer missionary to China from who came the China Inland Mission, which became Overseas Missionary Fellowship wrote this:
“God has looked for a man weak enough and he found me!”
He also said, “God's work done in Gods way will never lack God's supply”.
And in the going then and now our work does not stop with evangelism and bringing people to Christ “As Martin Goldsmith said “ If hasty conversions of Jesus our saviour are not followed up by any deep discipleship and committed involvement in the local Church then it’s as if people have drunk instant coffee and then forgot about what it tastes like.” Short term fruitfulness brings little pleasure to God he appoints his disciples to “go and bear fruit, fruit that will last”
Jesus called you and I, his disciples to make disciples of All Nations the word is Ta Ethne every tribe and every tongue and then to baptize them in the name of the Trinity; God the Father ,God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus does not hold back, he offers men and women who accept his call in one sense an impossible task to reach the world, bring people to Christ and disciple, baptize, and teach them. But we do not go alone Christ says he will be with us always.
Stanley Hauerwas says “It’s hard to remember that Jesus did not come to make us safe but rather to make us his disciples’ citizens of God's new age a kingdom of Surprise,
Lucy Peppiatt author of “The Disciple” says the first believers were taught to fast, pray, and give to the needy all these should accompany the outpouring of the Spirit and as we do this barriers of racism, classism,and sexism will be broken down. Just as the first apostles had to break boundaries so too we will find Christ pushes us to reach 'beyond the permiter fence' or as Paul it in his first letter to the Corinthians “to go to region beyond”.When first a missionary I worked for RBMU, regions beyond missionary union who went to far flung Peru and other 'unreached places'
Having seen people come to Christ we are to MATHETEUSATE them make disciples i.e. move people from conversion to a lifetime walk with Christ not just as Saviour but now as Lord to live a lifetime of
Obedience and prayer
Expectation and humility
Encounter and reliance on the power of the Spirit
and service in Love to the very ends of the earth
The disciples were to baptize people into a 'Psalm 119 obedience' and a reliance on Christ's teaching ie all that is written In St Matthew chapter 1 to 28.As they go, they are invited to put Matthew 5 to 7 into action. The evidence is that they did this as people were baptized the early Christians practiced catechesis the preparation and equipping of new believers.
New recruits to the British Army do a 12 to 14-week basic training time. They are pushed to their limits, equipped for the task ahead of military service, and they know they are a part of a Platoon ( a team)They swear allegiance to the Queen. They commit to the service of Queen and country. Maybe in the Church we have made it out to be too easy to be a Christian in the 21st C. Following Christ is not a lifestyle choice. But it is the adventure of eternity the adventure of following Jesus and in doing so making disciples of others: I know no higher calling.Amen.
Heavenly Father in your Son Jesus Christ
You have given us a true faith and a sure hope
Strengthen this faith and hope in us all our days
That we may live as those who believe in the
Communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
And the resurrection to eternal life
Through Christ our Lord Amen.