The story of Jesus death and resurrection, the story of his victory over sin and death is a pretty good story and Good News for all of us. It would be a pretty good ending to a story that has had intrigue, adventure, betrayal and murder. We could title it The Messiah: There and Back Again, and it would no doubt be a best seller as people are gripped by the adventure of Jesus and his merry band. People would sit enthralled as they read of the nails being driven into Jesus’ hands and would gaze in rapt attention as they see him after he is raised from the dead. The End, roll credits. You can go home now.[audio http://www.buzzsprout.com/33052/262588-one-and-done.mp3]
But! But! It’s not the end. Far from it. If that was the end we’d have no need of getting together every week. We could read the book and then we’d be done. We could wait for the movie version to come out and then we’d be done. The End, roll credits. But it’s not the end and even though we’ve read the book, there is more to the story.
Jesus gives us what is commonly referred to as the Great Commission. The disciples, which means us today, are told to go into all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
That is a pretty massive commission, isn’t it?
It all begins with a simple first commission. Go. Not stay where you are. Not sit on the couch. Not show up at church once a week or once a month and call it good but go. What Jesus wants us to do doesn’t just happen only here in the church building, by and large. It also happens out there. In the nations. That’s pretty impressive considering the people in Jerusalem didn’t yet know about 4 of the seven continents.
Too many churches in the last 30 years have focused on having quality programs that people enjoy coming to. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself but the problem is it is too often just itself. Jesus tells us straight out to spend some time outside the four walls of the church.
And do what? That’s the second commission. Make disciples. Of the five commissions Jesus gives, this is probably the most difficult. If you ask 100 people what a disciple is you’ll most likely get 100 answers. Disciples is a hard word. We confuse it even more by making it a verb as in discipling people.
Whatever the technical definition of disciple might be it really comes down to this. A disciple is simply someone who follows Christ. That sounds fairly simple and straightforward but it tends to be a bit more challenging than that, doesn’t it? Knowing about Christ is a history lesson. Following Christ is to be transformed into actually following Christ.
As part of making disciples we run into the third commission. We baptize them in the name of the father, son and holy spirit. Fair enough. We like doing that and being around that. Baptism is just one of those cool things that we do. But baptism doesn’t end with the water it begins with the water. When we baptize someone we are committing them to God and taking on the responsibility in our promises to do everything we can to honor that commitment.
Along the way of making disciples and baptizing them we get the fourth commission. Teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. That’s a tough one. It presumes that we first know everything that Jesus commanded and that we ourselves obey everything that Jesus commanded. That’s a pretty tall order.
The call is pretty massive in its scope. Jesus sends them to all nations. Which is pretty impressive since there were a lot of nations they didn’t know about just yet. We are to teach everything Jesus commanded. Go to all nations. Teach everything. There isn’t much in the way of wiggle room there.
It is something of a roller coaster ride, isn’t it. The Great Commission is comprised of things we kind of like doing, like going out and baptizing with things we’re usually not wild about, like making disciples and obeying everything that Jesus commanded.
This massive roller coaster ride can leave us with another round of hesitant certainty. I don’t know enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not faithful enough speaker to talk about my faith.
And yet, in our hesitant certainty we hear the fifth commission from Jesus. Remember that I am with you. Not just for today. Not just for tomorrow. Always. To the end of the edge. The one who went to the cross and died. The one who overcame sin and death is with us. Always and to the end of the edge.
With Christ with us always and to the end of the edge we experience the same power that was at work to raise Jesus from the dead is the same power that is in each one of us. Have you thought about that? When we’re not sure about where we’re supposed to go, what we’re supposed to do or what we’re supposed to say we can remember this. The same power that was at work to raise Jesus from the dead is the same power that is in each one of us.
In and with that power we can Bring Christ’s Love to Life. The same power that brought Christ back to life enables us to Bring Christ’s Love to Life. Not in a one and done baptism, not in a one and done program or project. Christ’s Love is Brought to Life every day by being who we are. Disciples of the one who saved us.
When you leave this place today, know this. In your imperfect self, in all your brokenness, in all your hesitant certainty you have what you need to share the Good News. Not by large amounts of technical knowledge, not by doing all the right things, not by living a perfect life but by being the baptized child of God that you are. That is the Good News the world is waiting and depending on. Go therefore 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 obey everything that Christ has commanded you. And remember, Christ with you always, to the end of the age.”