After Words: #1
What Jesus Taught After The Resurrection
How good are you at doing what you’re told to do; especially when someone expects you do it without question? Growing up, we all remember a parent saying, “Just do what I say. Stop arguing.” And if you ever dared to ask “Why?” you got the look and those words we all swore we’d never say to our kids: “Because I said so!” How good are you at doing what you’re told to do?
I got in trouble a lot as a kid. I have to admit that some of it was well deserved. Sometimes it was for doing what I was told not to do. I remember once, getting in trouble for doing what I WAS told to do.
I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. Mom or Dad had put some meat out to thaw. When I got home from school there was a note from my Dad to put the meat in the “ice box”. I had no idea what an ice box was. I knew what a refrigerator was. I knew what an ice chest was. I knew there were ice trays and ice in the top of the refrigerator. So, maybe, that was the ice box. I thought it was called a freezer but what did I know. So, I took the meat and put it in the only logical place I could think of, that box at the top of the refrigerator with ice.
I got in trouble. Not too much, but so much that I still remember the incident. Obviously it was a lack of communication and understanding of terminology. Maybe that was the beginning of my love for words. Did you ever get in trouble for not doing what you were told to do?
What would the world be like today if the Apostles hadn’t done what Jesus told them to do? What if they had gone home and simply gone back to bed, gotten up the next morning and went back to living like they’d been living before Jesus came into their lives? What would the world be like today?
I think it might have been a little like this. WATCH
I really like that little video. It reminds us that Jesus was all about what some have called the Great Reversal, “the first shall be last and the last shall be first” and how Jesus seemed to stand all the old teachings on their head. Our worship service is built upon that idea. The world tells us that money and possessions should be first in our lives, so we have physically made it the last thing in our service and we start the service by focusing on God with a prayer to fill us with the Holy Spirit. It may not seem like much but it’s a theological statement which says to us and to the world, the concerns of God come first in our lives and especially in our worship.
I. THE IMPERATIVE:
A. One of those deep concerns is found in today’s Scripture. Let’s look at Matthew and hear what we refer to as the Great Commission. Matthew 28:9-10, 18-20 (NRSV)
 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.
 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
 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 [all] that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Because the Disciples took Jesus’ last words seriously, because they remembered and went and told anyone and everyone that would listen; the world looks a whole lot different than if they’d just gone home. It looks more like the second half of that little video clip.
B. Those last three verses in Matthew put it all into perspective and Jesus outlines the purpose of the church. These verses are the Great Imperative. As an adjective imperative means “something is absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable.” As a noun an imperative is “something that demands attention or action; an unavoidable obligation or requirement; a necessity.”
Both of those describe what we call the Great Commission. Unfortunately in our own denomination and others it has become the Great Omission. We’ve forgotten how to tell the story. We’ve forgotten how to share OUR story. We’ve become fearful of rejection; of being seen as a Holy Roller or a fruitcake or one the various mixed nuts we’ve all seen over the years. We don’t want to be seen like that.
Frankly, I don’t think Jesus does either. But rather than doing nothing, we have to do something. And I think we need to recapture the simple art of telling our story. People can argue with you about theology, Biblical interpretation and religious practices but they can’t argue with you about your story, your journey with Christ. You see, that’s what the Disciples shared with the world, their story. Their stories were so intricately wrapped in the story of Jesus that it was easy to share what Jesus had done in their lives. That’s why Jesus said, “Go and Remember.”
II. FOUR ALL:
A. The Imperative is to Go; To Go and tell the story. The story, our story isn’t just for us. It was given to us For All. For all time and for all humanity. For all the world, for all nations. For All.
If you’re looking at the outline, No, I didn’t forget how to spell. Actually, Richard Beaton, Associate Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA noticed that there were Four Alls in this passage. First Jesus says “ALL authority is given to me.” Then He tells us to make “disciples of ALL nations.” Then he tells us to teach them to obey “ALL he has commanded.” And finally Jesus said, “Remember, I am with you Always.” Always might be a bit of a stretch in his observation but I understand what Professor Beaton means.
The first thing I’d like to point out is that most of the time we separate verses 19-20 from verse 18 and only quote those verse as the Great Commission. I got to thinking about that this week and I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve made a grave error in doing so.
We all know the Great Commission by heart. “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 [all] that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
It is the Reader’s Digest Condensed version of the mission and ministry of the church. It’s why we have missionaries and do so much Mission work. It’s why we have Sunday School and VBS and Youth and small groups and Bible studies. It’s the heartbeat of our purpose.
But we make a grave error when we divorce it from verse 18. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
We don’t do all of these things out of our own authority. It’s not OUR will we’re trying to accomplish. It’s not OUR Kingdom which we hope will grow. We Go and we serve out of the authority of Christ. WE Go and teach and baptize because the one in whom ALL authority rests has told us to Go and do these things. We go empowered not only by our orders but by the authority of Christ himself
B. I remember when I was in the service, I was stationed at a LORAN station on the island of Hokkaido in Japan. About a month after I got there, Mary had our oldest son, Paul. Of course, I wanted to go and see him. All I had were pictures and the daily letters Mary wrote. I kept asking and at Christmas the Capt. surprised me with emergency leave papers. Which meant it didn’t count against my ordinary leave and it meant I would be the first one on any plane I boarded. And that was something.
It was Christmas and everyone was trying to get home. I bumped Admirals, Captains, Colonels, and Lieutenant’s and even a General. I was a lowly Seaman Apprentice. The only one lower in grade than me were the recruits in boot camp, yet I was the first one on the plane. It wasn’t by any authority or rank that I had, it was simply because of the orders I’d been given.
It’s the same for us. We don’t GO simply because we want to. We go in, under and through the authority and power of the Son of God. In essence what Jesus said can be translated to mean, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me and I give you My authority to go into all the world to make disciples, to teach and to baptize.”
Jesus tells us to go. He gives us permission and he gives us both the power and authority to carry out the Great Commission. We don’t go OF ourselves or FOR ourselves. And if you look at that last “All” which Dr. Beaton described, we don’t go BY ourselves. Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, for and through whom everything was created, the One who has been given ALL authority in heaven and on earth, goes with us.
A. Jesus tells us to GO and then he tells us to Remember. When we go in the name of Christ, when we answer the Great Imperative and live out the Great Commission, Christ wants us to Remember we don’t go alone. The Son of God goes with us. Through the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit, the Risen Christ is with us.
Jesus tells us to Remember not just that He is with us. He wants us to remember our story. He wants us to remember His story. And He wants us to remember his words of comfort and empowerment. “Remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” But He wants us to remember OUR story so we can tell it.
I know you’re probably sitting there thinking, “Holy moley, preacher.” I can’t talk about my faith. I don’t know the Bible like you do. I haven’t been trained in theology.”
I know all the arguments. But here’s something else that I think Jesus wants us to remember. None of the Disciples went to or even spent one day in seminary. None of them went to Licensing School. None of them were certified Lay Speakers. Most of them were tradesman. Although most of them knew how to read and write, some of them probably different. They were just like you.
The only one who had any classical training was Saul, and at this juncture in time, he was “still breathing threats and murder against the disciple,” as Acts 9:1 says.
What set the disciples apart was their willingness to share their story. That’s all they really did. They were eyewitnesses and simple told their story. And that’s what we have to remember how to do.
B. I want to give you a little homework. It’s not hard. There won’t be a test, at least no one given by me. But I want you to think about Four things as they relate to telling your story. They’re simple but write them down.
1. Look Up: Look at the stars and the orderliness of creation. If we were created out of one big bang then it had to be by an awfully big God. Because without a big God to control it all, all you have is a big bang. And a big bang is just a big explosion. And all you really get from a big explosion is destruction. But with God you can see there is order and beauty and creativity.
2. Look Around: Look at creation. There are 11 million species on the planet. Look in microscope at the tiny world that boggles our minds. God isn’t hiding. God is all around. Have you ever thought about comparing DNA to computer code/ The greater the code, the greater the programmer. DNA is the greatest code that has ever been created. The evidence of God is all around us.
3. Look Inside: Don’t you feel a connectedness with something. Or feel yourself being drawn to connect to something or someone? When look up or look around or look inside you simply stand in awe that God created you. And in the midst of all this beauty God chooses to love you. God gave his Son, Jesus just for you.
4. Remember: Remember Your Story: How has God worked in your life. How is God working in your life now? What difference is it making in who you are and the choices you are making? What difference does it make in how you raise your family or treat your neighbor? Where did you first meet Jesus? How did your faith become real? Remember Your Story. Remember so you can be ready to share it when someone else wants to know.
How many of you have seen the movie The Adventures of TinTin? Don’t feel bad if you don’t know who Tintin is. He was the creation of Belgian artist and cartoonist Georges Remi who wrote under the pen name of Hergé. I became familiar with Tintin in High School French class. I took 4 years of High School French because my Mother thought it was such a pretty language. Tintin helped me with my vocabulary and sentence structure.
Tintin is a young Belgian reporter who becomes involved in dangerous cases in which he and his dog Snowy take heroic action to save the day. In the Spielberg movie, there is a scene at the end which I really love. Tintin and Captain Haddock search for the treasure of Capt. Haddock’s ancestor. WATCH
You and I have knowledge that can be and is Treasure both for us, but also for a lost and hurting world. Most people don’t know where to look. We do. Like Capt. Haddock, we have the key to unlock untold treasures for the heart and soul. We have the key to the way, the truth and the life, Jesus. We have the key. And all we have to do is Go and Remember.
Remember His story and how it intersects and becomes our story and especially your story. We’re called to Remember that Jesus is with us wherever we go. We’re called to Remember the Great Commission and be willing to share our story. And then invite them to be a part of Christ’s story by experiencing it for themselves.
Go. Remember. And invite others to be a part of the story and see for themselves.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.