Today is the last day in the VBS series. Two weeks ago we started by talking about our theme verse. Isaiah 43:2, I read it at the beginning of the service. Remember it? I will put on my paddle guide outfit here, and we will do the VBS theme verse.
When you pass through the waters.
I will be with you.
Last week, we looked Matthew chapter 4. Jesus called four disciples, and told them He will take them from fishermen and make them fishers of men. We said the call of the gospel is a call to discipleship. Disciples are followers of Jesus. Disciples are with Jesus, all the time. Once again there is this idea of God being present with us, as we follow Him through life, through the good times and the difficult times.
Today, we are going to look at the passage from the last day of VBS. This lesson is from the book of Matthew chapter 28, starting at verse 16.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 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 obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
These are Jesus’s instructions to his disciples, to carry on His mission of the kingdom of God, after He is no longer going to be physically with them. Eventually they will complete, this mission with the Holy Spirit of God indwelling them.
Just before this passage, Jesus had died on the cross for our sins, according to the scriptures. He was buried, three days later he rose again and he appeared to the 11. This passage called the great commission, is the very end of Matthew’s gospel. After Jesus rose from the grave, and before he ascended to heaven he gave the disciples these instructions. He was speaking to the whole group. This is a group instruction, and we are part of that group, because, as we said last week, as response to the gospel means that we becoming followers of Jesus. As followers of Jesus we do what Jesus says to do.
We will begin on Easter Sunday. Jesus had just risen from the dead. He appeared to Mary, and Mary Magdalene, and we read in Matthew 28:7.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
Jesus is going to Galilee. That is the region around the lake, where the fishermen were from. It is in the vicinity of where he found the disciples. It is a going back to where it all began.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
Matthew makes a point to remind us that were only 11 left. Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus could no longer live with the guilt of having betrayedJesus, the innocent Holy one, and had hanged himself. The eleven that were left went to the mountain.
Slide MT Tabor
This may possibly be the same mountain on which Jesus was transfigured. We don’t know exactly but exactly but that would make sense. Although we don’t know for sure, since the name isn’t mentioned, this is mount Tabor, and it could very well be the mountain, since it fits well with the location.
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
When they, the 11 saw him, they worshipped Him. They had seen the risen Lord Jesus Christ, and they worshipped him. Jesus Christ, had risen from the dead, just as He said He would. This validated everything Jesus had been saying. He was the God-man that had taken away the sin. Sin and death was not victorious, Jesus was victorious, so they worshipped Him. They are giving Jesus the glory, the honor and the praise he deserves.
Then Matthew says something odd, but some doubted. It says they worshipped, but some doubted. By worshipping they are saying that Jesus is God. The act of worship is ascribing deity to Jesus. Usually you don’t worship and doubt simultaneously. It doesn’t seem like they would doubt who Jesus is. Jews only worshipped God. They would not intentionally give there worship to anyone but God.
Perhaps, though the doubt here does not refer to doubting in Jesus’s identity so much as the doubt refers to a more general sense of the doubt of the success of the mission. The word doubt, perhaps is not applied to an unbelief in the person of Jesus, not to His work on the cross, and the fact that he rose form the dead, but perhaps the doubt is a general worry, concern and nervousness surrounding the mission of the the kingdom of God. In other words they worshipped the risen Lord Jesus as God, but some of them were doubting as to what was going to happen to His kingdom mission. Is this the end of the mission? Is this all there is? Is he going to leave us here now.
Now look what comes next. They worshipped him, but some doubted, then look what it says next in Mt 28:17? What does it say?
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Then Jesus came to them, and said.
Are you seeing this theme develop. Week one-When you pass through the water- ---what? I will be with you. When Jesus called them He said, Come follow me, Come be with me, be with Jesus. And here, when some doubted, then Jesus came to them. When it looked like the mission was done…Then Jesus came to them…When it looked like the end…Then Jesus came to them.
And what does he do when do when when he comes to them? Does he give them the “Buck up little Camper” speech? Does he tell them -Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps? Does he say I have full confidence in you because you have worked so hard? Does he say, you guys are wonderful, You really are something special now go and do it. NO! Jesus does not do that. Instead Jesus reminds them, not of who they are, but who He is.
“All authority in heaven, and on earth has been given to me. All authority. Everywhere, There is not a place that you can go in heaven and on earth that Jesus does not have complete authority. There is not a thing that Jesus does not have complete authority over. The Bible says not a sparrow falls to the ground, there is not bug lives except by the will of Go. The Bible says that all things are held together by Him, the entire universe is held together, by HIm.
Jesus has complete and total authority over the Roman government. The same government that will arrest and persecute the disciples. Jesus has complete and total authority over the storms that will shipwreck the apostle Paul. Jesus has complete and total authority over the illness that will plague Paul, and the banishment of John.
Jesus had complete and total authority over the Pharisees, Jesus had complete and total authority over the people that crucified Him. And by His resurrection form the dead Jesus has shown that he has complete and total authority over sin, and even over death itself.
And the disciples need to know that. The need to know that the waters will not overwhelm them, they need to know that when they walk through the fire they will not be burned.
They need to know that because, the mission is not easy.
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,
This is an impossible mission for group of fishermen and tax collectors, doubters, deniers and sinners.How are they supposed to go to make disciples of all nations. We don’t think too much of that today, because we can charge a plane ticket to virtually any country get there tomorrow if we wanted. But it was not so simple for them. They had to walk, or by horseback, and be threatened by robbers. Travel by small boat, and threatened by storms, and illness. There were hostile governments, foreign languages they could not speak. Customs, and things that they new nothing about. Most of these men had not even travelled more than 100 miles from where they were born and raised, and now Jesus was sending them to ALL NATIONS. They would need to know that Jesus had all of those troubles, under his authority. Not to make them go away, but to carry them through it.
When they reach the nations they are to make disciples. They were to create subjects of the kingdom of God. They were to make them into fishers of men, just like Jesus did with them. The are to make disciples by preaching the gospel so that the power of the Holy Spirit can remove their hearts of stone, and replace them with hearts of flesh to transform them into followers of Jesus.
They are to convert people into disciples by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and demonstrate that they have been converted by baptizing them, into their new life. The Baptism Jesus is referring to is a public sign that they are not going to be part of the kingdom of the world any longer, but instead, they going to be part of the kingdom of God. They are going to go under the water to symbolize dying to their old life of sin, and they are to come out of the water rising to a new life. Reborn, into a new different kingdom, the kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirt. They will show that they have become a child of the King, a blood bought spirit wrought disciple of Jesus.
The mission does not end there.
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
They are to teach the disciples to obey everything Jesus commanded them. All the teaching that Jesus has been pouring into them, they are now to pour into others. The command to love God, the command to love one another as Jesus has loved them. The command be Holy as He is holy. The command to abide in Jesus. The disciples are to teach all that they know.
And through all that, Jesus will be with them to the very end of the age. This mission is until the end of the age. This is not just something meant for them, or something meant for a few, but it is for all disciples, until Jesus returns, and this age had ended.
When the disciples had received that mission, they went. The church exploded. 11 men, from one corner of the world, spread Christianity in the face of extreme opposition all over the world. Today, we are here in the United States in Faribault Minnesota, in St. Luke’s church because 11 men in Galilee took that great commission seriously. 11 men who looked at that set of instructions and did what it said.
When they went, the church exploded. In-spite of persecutions, hardships, and difficulties, the church exploded. Yet, we look around here in America, and we do not necessarily see this pattern. Sometimes, churches do go. Sometimes churches do make disciples. Other times churches don’t go and don’t make disciples. Although there are churches that are good at this, I would say overall most churches, most christians are not very good at this. I would say that this is the perhaps one of the hardest tasks for christians, go and make disciples, and baptize them teaching them to obey Jesus’s commands. It is comparably easy for us christians to read our bibles. We may pray, we may work on our sins from time to time but generally speaking christians don’t go and make disciples very often. I think people do not go and make disciples for primarily 2 main reasons.
The first reason is that I think most christians view it the task or calling of the missionaries or the pastors to go and make disciples, and that they are somehow not the ones Jesus is referring to. But we know that this is not the case. This, being a fisher of men is actually for all that are called by the gospel. People say, I’m not good enough, or I don’ know t enough. We feel inadequate, not equipped or unqualified, we have in our mind a picture of a missionary in a foreign country and we can’t possibly do that. But I think there is even a bogger reason a reason behind even that.
I think the main reason why christians and churches don’t go, and make disciples is rooted in verse 17.
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
It starts with worship. We need to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. The church must stop worshipping itself. The church must stop worshipping at the altar of self indulgence and move to worshipping Jesus. We need to worship Him because he redeemed us from our bondage to sin through his death on the cross. We need to worship Him by turning from our wicked ways and turn to follow him Recognizing that that he has the authority over our sin, authority over our life, and authority over our churches, and He alone has called us to this mission.
Even for those that have bowed their knee to the risen Lord Jesus, Some doubted. There is doubt in those that don’t go, there is doubt in the church that doesn’t go. Jesus was able to provide for the disciples the means to overcome that doubt, and we can overcome that doubt as well. Follow with me here.
The Great commission is a statement of..
Promise-All Authority in heaven (V18)
Instruction -Go and make disciples (V19)
Assurance-I will be with you (V20)
Promise, then instruction, the assurance. Both the promise, and the assurance are rooted not in us. They promise and assurance have nothing to do with us but are rooted in the character of God, and the power and authority of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. The reason people do not follow the instruction, is they do not believe the promise, and do not have confidence in the assurance.
We don’t like the meat sandwich because we are using bread we don’t have any confidence in. A good sandwich needs good quality bread. The reason we do not do what Jesus says is because we have too low of a view of God and we we do not believe that that Jesus will be with us.
We don’t have confidence in the promise because we don’t really believe all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus. That is why we have fear. We do not go and make disciples, because we fear the authority of men, we fear the consequences of the world. We do not truly believe that Jesus Christ is in control or what happens to us, good or bad. We read the newspapers, and hear the stories of where it appears the kingdom of God has been driven back and we hang our heads low, we think battle is over, and we retreat to our churches. Brothers and sister that is not true.
All authority in heaven and earth belongs to Jesus. We view the advance of the kingdom of God as struggle of good versus evil and as if it is based on us, our performance, and our abilities. We over exaggerate the failures, and underestimate the authority of Jesus Christ. People do not have authority over the power of the Gospel. People do not have power over your reputation you finances, even your very life. Even those authorities that seek to destroy the gospel have been placed there by God. All authority, even the authorities of this world are all subject to the authority of The Lord Jesus.
When we follow instructions, there may be consequences, even if we have a big view of the authority of Jesus we still must have confidence in the assurance.
The authorities of this world, even though they are placed by God, still do seek and destroy the kingdom of God. The consequences are real. I may lose my job, I may go broke, I may lose my reputation I may lose my family. That does happen, but the reward of the Gospel never was a healthy wealthy life. The reward of the gospel was never a trouble free life, a stellar reputation or friends. The reward of the Gospel is God. The reward of the Gospel is Jesus Christ.
So when the flood waters of troubles rise, Jesus Christ, will be with you. When the fire of persecution is burning all around you the Lord Jesus Christ will walk with you through it. These things will not overtake you, for God will be with you. Even If you lose this whole world you will still have Jesus.
The only way the church can do what Jesus said, is not on it’s own accord. The church must bow the knee to the risen Lord Jesus, We must have full confidence in who Jesus is, and complete trust in his assurance that he will be with us.
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 obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”