Sometimes it is intriguing to think back on my “growing up” years. I will be the first to admit that I never would have gone to church or been part of choir and youth group without my parents insisting that I be involved. As I reluctantlly was a part of these things, I am amazed at the seeds that were planted during that time. (Side note…parents, don’t be afraid to insist that your kids are participate in activities that they would rather not be part of.) There have been numerous times over the past years that something pops into my mind from what I learned back in those days. Today is no different.
Our reading today is Matthew 28. As I was reading the passage, two songs immediately came to mind from my days in the Church Choir back in the 80s. The first is a song we sang called “Go Ye Therefore and Teach all nations, Go, Go, Go”. The second song I recall is from a musical we performed and all I remember is “God, please don’t send me to Africa” I recall at the time seriously thinking about that and what my life would look like if God really sent me to Africa. (I know some of you reading this were in that same musical and are singing the song in your head right now:)
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to by everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The above 3 verses are known to us today as The Great Commission. It is Jesus’ last earthly message to his disciples. This is the message that Jesus wants his disciples to remember as his final command. He instructed them that He wants them to do 3 things:
1 – Go and make disciples
2 – Baptize them
3 – Teach them all that I have commanded you
Can you imagine how you would feel if Jesus appeared before you (after being crucified on the cross and put in a tomb) and commanded you to do these 3 things?? Would you be ready? Does this mean you have to pack your bags and get on the quickest trip to Africa?? How do you suppose the disciples reacted to this command?
The reality is, the Bible is Jesus’ way of speaking to us and commanding us to do what He wants of us. And guess what, He is asking us or commanding us to do what He asks of the disciples!
Go – Baptize – Teach!
What excuses do we bring to the table when we think about doing these 3 things? Personally, I think about my daily life and how busy I am. I have responsibilities to my husband, my children, to dos for work, errands, keeping up with household chores, and the numerous other events that pop up daily. There are so many reasons that I am too busy to “go and teach all nations!”
But, Jesus is asking us, just as He did His disciples, to preach the Gospel every day, right where we are (while some are called to Africa). We can preach the Gospel every day: by what we say, how we say it, what we do and how we do it! Every day we have the ability to “preach the Gospel” without saying a word. We can “preach the Gospel: simply by who we are, what we do and how we do it!
We have to make this a daily choice to live our lives in a loving and generous way to all those we encounter.
Thankfully, we don’t Go – Baptize – Teach on our own! Jesus ends this command to “go” with a promise of His presence. He says in verse 20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus promises this to the disciples and also to everyone of us! He is saying to us, “don’t worry, I got your back! I will be with you!”
Where is Jesus sending You? Where has He sent you? Is it in your community, your work place, your family, or maybe Africa? Where is it that Jesus is commanding you to go make disciples? Wherever it is, He promises to go with you.
Jesus being our ever present help gives us the opportunity for a closer relationship with Him daily. “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” Oh what great words of courage and confidence that Jesus gives us today. If you abide in Christ and Christ abides in you, here is another one of God’s promise to you today… Joshua 1:5 says, “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God promises never to leave me nor forsake me. I need to let that sink in my brain and my heart daily, sometimes hourly! We can rest in the promise of God in knowing that He will be with us ALWAYS, even unto the end of the age. There is never a time when He is not present with us. So, don’t be afraid of what God has commanded us to do..
GO – BAPTIZE – PREACH