Archive for March, 2021
“Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;…” (Matthew 28:20).
The literal, “all whatever,” means this is not an accommodating approach to the teachings of Jesus. Only a comprehensive pursuit of anything and everything he taught is fitting of the One who calls us to follow after him. To only cherry-pick the commands of scripture with which you are comfortable is to compromise both scripture and one’s opportunity for growth; diminishing the one standard by which the practice of life and faith is to be guided and measured.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Baptism is the step of becoming fully immersed into a new pursuit and identity. This is not a sprinkling of religion that soon dries up, but a submergence into the pursuit of Christ, his ways, his teachings, his Lordship. It is a way incompatible with all others, and can be blended with none. Baptism should never be diminished with the language of being “just a symbol.” It captures and depicts fully the life of faith, and the resurrection power that has come upon the one who dares to go all in with Christ.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Instead of words that capture the immediacy of the moment—preach, win, convert—Jesus sees as being necessary a slower profile word, if his long-term mission for the church is to be accomplished—make disciples. To make disciples is a far more personal pursuit than the impersonal task of proclamation. Out of the nurturing of relationships, in the coming and going of the day, we are embracing a role that builds trust and brings others to a place of considering Christ. Knowing that only the Holy Spirit can accomplish conversion, we are part of the educational process of making Jesus known to the world.
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
There is no more miserable life than the one preoccupied with its own existence; where all arrows point in and never out. We are created to serve; saved to serve; gifted to serve. With one trifling exception the world is made up of others. Thus, we should not be surprised that the fulness of serving God is never realized until we commit ourselves to their service.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
Spiritual fruit is not something manufactured by human effort, but the Spirit as we abide in Him. The missional task of the church is never the result of us being religious in our sanctuaries but, rather, it is accomplished as we are fruitful in our daily lives–bearing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
The declared authority of verse 18 creates an accountability for the admonitions of this present verse. The charge to “go” is the “Let’s go” cry of the church as she goes out into the world with purposed intent. This imperative command makes clear that the commission given to the church cannot be accomplished behind the standing walls of sanctuaries that would seek to cloister us within a hedge of safe keeping. Of all the misguided notions of what the church should be doing, each must be filtered through the question of whether it effectively gets us going out to be fishers of men, or is it an endeavor that holds us hostage to being keepers of the aquarium.
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth’” (Matthew 28:18).
Jesus’ claim of all authority is absolute and exhaustive; no place within the cosmos of God’s created order is exempt from his prerogative. His self-declaration forces each of us to decide the nature of our relationship with him. For a culture that rejects established and credentialed authority for aberrant and outlier voices, this determination of what will be the authoritative guide for your life is no small thing. The direction of one’s life, and ultimate destiny, is established by the choice made.
“When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some were doubtful” (Matthew 28:17).
As shocking as it may be to discover that, even as they worshiped Him, some of the disciples were doubtful of the resurrected Christ, I believe it adds even greater veracity and credibility to the text. Having seen what they have, someone crucified coming back from the grave, appearing and disappearing again, I would be more suspicious of the authenticity of the apostle’s accounting if he had not expressed doubts and questions about such things. Matthew is writing some 60-70 years after the fact, and old man in life and faith, but the doubts he confessed have been overcome by the witness of God’s Spirit working faithfully in the infancy of the early church. Like Matthew, stay the course. Doubts don’t have to paralyze unless you allow them.
“But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated” (Matthew 25:16).
In the journey of faith there is, perhaps, no more vital task than proceeding forward obediently; to continue forth, like Abraham, to a place of not knowing (Hebrews 11:8). As shocked, perplexed, and confused as they might have been at the resurrected appearance of the crucified Christ, the eleven disciples followed his directive to leave for Galilee (v.10), where he would, again, meet them. Only by continuing on faithfully, and not walking away in defeat, does clarity come to those things not previously understood.
“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I day to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:45-46).
While many seem content with a moralistic religion; satisfied having not committed particular sins—murder, adultery, stealing, blasphemy, etc.—the condemnation of God is based not upon the avoidance of these “big” sins, but the neglect of the littlest things that could have done to have made the biggest difference for someone in the moment—food, drink, clothing, shelter, a visit. God’s heartbeat isn’t as much for the moral majority as it is the broken minority—the powerless, the voiceless, the orphan, widow, and all who cry in need.