Summary: The last words we speak are important. Join the adventure as we learn how Jesus disciples moved from fear to faith in their journey to follow Jesus’ final words.
My wife and I were nervous about our mission trip to Globe, AZ. It wasn’t the trip itself. It was because this would be the first time we had left our children in the care of another person for such an extended length of time.
So like any parent, before we left we made sure that the sitter had instructions and vital information. We left phone numbers, medications, names of doctors and medical cards. We told her where to find things in the house; how to handle situations; and we gave final assignments for the kids to carry out while we were gone.
Those last words of instruction and advice were important to us. We wanted to make sure that our kids would be ok and that the house would run smoothly while we were away. And there was absolutely no way we were leaving the house without being crystal clear to our children and our sitter what was important.
If you are like us, you’ve probably been there. You’ve probably heard them and given them to your baby sitter and children as well. As parents, those last words are important
Today, as we turn to our text, we will be hearing Jesus’ last words. They are found in Matthew 28:16-20. These are his final words of instruction to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. Like a good parent, I think we can see what Jesus thinks is important through his final words.
So turn to our text with me.
Let me forewarn you, it is going to take us a few minutes to get there. Because I have one other goal I want us to achieve today. As we read this text of Jesus’ last words, I also want us to get a sense of “before” and “after.”
If you watch T.V. for any amount of time, you will see a weight loss commercial. And almost every weight loss commercial will include pictures of people who have used their product. They take before and after pictures.
(Slide with clipart of overweight guy before and muscle bound guy afterward – It got quite a few chuckles)
Advertisers do before and after shots for a reason. They want us to believe that the weight loss product they are peddling REALLY works. I find those picture funny. Why? Because if you believe the pictures in the commercial, you will believe that not only will you lose weight, you’ll also have the chiseled form of a weight lifter
You know something else I find funny? Underneath the individual photos, the advertisers will usually have written, “Individual results may vary.”
I share that story because I want us to approach today’s text from several angles. Since these are Jesus’ last words, they are important. Like a good parent, he wants to make sure that his house runs smoothly while he is away. I also hope we see a snapshot of before and after in the life of the disciples. I want us to see if “Jesus” really works.
Even if individual results vary.
Let me start off with “The Before:”
Jesus has risen from dead. In the process, he has appeared to Mary (his mother), Mary Magdalene, and Salome in front of the empty tomb. They hurry and report to Jesus’ eleven disciples that they’ve seen Jesus alive. The eleven fail to believe.
Jesus appears to a disciple named Cleopas and another disciple while they travel on a road leading to the town of Emmaus. When Jesus finally reveals himself to them, the Scriptures tell us that they run and tell the eleven that Jesus is alive. And yet, the eleven still doubt.
Despite the testimony from a number of different sources, they believe Jesus is still dead. They don’t know what has happened to Jesus’ body, but they believe he is dead nonetheless. And they are downright terrified that what has happened to Jesus will happen to them.
For clarity, look at what John, one of the eleven, writes in his gospel
19 On the evening of that first day of the week when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jews,
It’s a BEFORE picture. Catch the motive for locked doors – FEAR of the Jews.
The attitude is this. If Jesus is dead, we have reason to hide behind locked doors in fear. Jesus had been crucified by Rome at the request of the Jews The Jews said Jesus was an enemy of the Romans and Caesar. And we understand from history that Rome did not tolerate rebellion. Rebels were ruthlessly crushed by the power of Rome. The cross was the place where they ended up. And those associated with rebellious leaders were often rounded up to endure the same punishment.