Summary: This is the heart of the believer's mission. The author uses scriptures and his own story to make this important reality into something practical and reachable.
Pastor Eric J. Hanson
August 1, 2010
Over the last few Sundays, we have focused on the difficulties, the trials, the heartbreaking things that come into people’s lives. We have explored ways to get through these things, and to do so without losing our faith, and even without losing our joy as followers of Jesus Christ. This topic has been an important one, and it has resonated with many who are sitting here this morning, because the truth is, a lot of our people are doing through lean times financially, and also other types of serious matters. The CDs and tapes of these last several weeks are highly recommended for your use, and also to share with others who need to hear them.
Today, however, we are going to turn the page, so to speak. The topic we shall consider now is of the very highest importance. It is, in fact, the heart of our mission as believers in Jesus Christ. I am speaking of Making Disciples. In fact, the last thing that the Lord Jesus spoke about to his disciples, just before he ascended to Heaven, was this very thing. He said to them, “ Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to do all that I have commanded you; and note this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Ladies and gentlemen, we are still in the age Jesus was speaking of. It is the church age. It will only end upon His return. Therefore, these marching orders still apply to all of us who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
Let’s do a little exercise of the imagination to drive this home. Let’s all stand together and imagine being there on that mountaintop, Mount Olivet in Galilee, where the disciples were standing when Jesus spoke the words we have just considered. Now close your eyes and imagine yourself standing there.
The Lord Jesus Christ himself is standing before you. He has been resurrected from the dead, and has been teaching you on and off for the last 40 days since his resurrection. As you look at Him, you can see once more, the scars where the spikes penetrated His wrists and his feet. You imagine how inside of His robe, there is the scar where the Centurion’s spear had been driven into the Lord’s side. You listen very carefully now, because you know that every word the Lord is about to speak must stay with you and guide you for the rest of your life. Quiet now, the Lord is about to speak, so you listen and hear these words: (now repeat the above scripture).
Just as you are letting this sink in, and trying to understand all the implications of what the Lord just said to you, and amazing thing happens. Before your very eyes, Jesus begins to rise up into the air. Higher and higher he goes. Soon he disappears into a cloud. You sense that it is no ordinary water vapor cloud. After all, you have been taught the Hebrew Scriptures your whole life, and you know that God appeared as a cloud to lead the whole people of Israel through the wilderness for some 40 years. You also know that a great cloud of God’s presence appeared on the day that Solomon’s Temple was dedicated. That cloud filled the Temple. So this cloud today, with Jesus Christ, Lord of All disappearing into it, seems right, It seems fitting.
Suddenly your reverie, your thoughts, and your wonder are interrupted by voices. Two men (Where did they come from?) are speaking in unison saying “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken up from you into Heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into Heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11) These men dressed all in white, have startled you back to Earth, so you head down the mountain, and back into Jerusalem. (You may be seated again.)
Of course, we were not there. We did not see and hear these things, but it is very important that these things be real to us. Jesus did say that this commission extends till the end of the age. The end of the age has not come yet. You and I might as well have been standing there.
When I first became a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ, one of the first things I was taught was the importance of telling others how to have their sins forgiven too. From the first week after I received Jesus Christ, I began attending a college age Sunday School class. Some of the first Bible verses I ever committed to memory, under the guidance of my Sunday School teacher, pastor Larry Wiles, were verses that drove home to me, that Jesus Christ is the one and only savior, and He is Lord indeed.