Summary: The Great Commission is intriguing in what it says and what it doesn’t. Consider the mystery & the power of Christian baptism.
OPENING: A drunk stumbled along a baptismal service on Sunday afternoon down by the river. He proceeded to walk down into the water and stood next to the Preacher.
The minister turned and noticed the old drunk and said, "Mister, Are you ready to find Jesus?" The drunk looks back and says, "Yes, Preacher. I sure am."
The minister then dunked the fellow under the water and pulled him right back up. "Have you found Jesus?" the preacher asks.
"No, I didn’t!" says the drunk.
The preacher then dunks him under for quite a bit longer, brings him up and says, "Now, brother, have you found Jesus?"
"No, I did not Preacher."
The preacher in disgust holds the man under for at least 30 seconds this time brings him out of the water and says in a harsh tone, "Friend, are you sure you haven’t found Jesus yet?"
The old drunk wipes his eyes and says to the preacher..."Are you sure this is where he fell in?"
APPLY: In Matthew 28 Jesus gave the Church their final marching orders. He said their job, as a church, was to help people find Jesus. They were to go into all the world and make disciples of all people. How were they going to do that?
Jesus told them that the two parts of their responsibility were to:
1) Baptize them into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
2) AND teach them to obey everything Jesus has commanded us
There’s a lot of material packed into those two responsibilities. And because there’s so much in those two commands we’re going to focus on baptism this week and THEN in the next few weeks we’ll talk about some of the things we should teach people to obey.
I. Until I’d prepared for this morning’s sermon, I hadn’t noticed that something was missing in this text. Really, there’s something missing.
Jesus told the Disciples, their first job in making disciples of all nations (in bringing people into His church and introducing them to the wonderful life of being children of God) was to baptize them.
But... there’s something missing here. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Bible say something about… faith? … repentance? ...confession?
Yet here - when Jesus is talking about making disciples - there’s no mention of faith, repentance, or confession. Just baptism into the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
That would seem to be a fairly important set of things for Jesus to be leaving out, don’t you think? Why would He do that?
One possibility is that Jesus made a mistake. Somehow in the course of the all the activities that were taking place that day, and in the confusion of the moment – He just forgot and left faith, confession and repentance completely out… Noooo, I don’t think so.
The other possibility is that there’s something WE CAN LEARN from Jesus leaving these things out.
II. What can we learn?
The first thing we should notice is that Matthew 28 is a command to the church, NOT to the convert. Jesus is telling us what WE should do to make disciples.
Now, follow me here:
Can you MAKE a person believe? (No, you can share your faith with them and explain what they need to believe, but you can’t make them believe).
Can you MAKE someone repent of their sins? (No, you can talk to them about their sins and their need to change, but the decision to repent must be theirs).
Can you get people to confess something they don’t feel? No, of course not – all these things are the responsibility of the convert. The church’s role in conversion is to administer baptism. That’s our job. In fact, this is the cool part of being a Christian. This is the one thing we can do that Jesus did not do.
Do you remember when Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12
We will do "greater things" than Jesus did? I don’t see how that’s possible. What greater things could you & I do that Jesus didn’t do? Jesus fed thousands, healed the sick, raised the dead, walked on water… those are hard acts to follow!
But did you know that Jesus never baptized anybody?
“The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples” (John 4:1-2).
Of course, that took place before the church began, but even after the Church started, Jesus left the task of bringing people into the kingdom in the hands of believers.