Summary: We are not called to sell Jesus, we are called to introduce people to Him
Matthew 28:16-20 September 12, 2004
At the end of Matthew, you have this amazing tale of Jesus death. He is arrested, beaten, tried unjustly and sentenced to death by crucifixion. In the movie the passion of the Christ, I am amazed that Jesus survives the torture to even go to the cross. But he survives to die, and Matthew speaks of this cataclysmic event when Jesus does finally die. 27:50-54
50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"
The event is cataclysmic because the event is cosmic – this is not as simple as an innocent man dieing unjustly, or a great radical dieing for his ideals. No this is the very Son of God who came to be a man for the purpose of dying for us, that we might have life.
Jesus death breaks the wall that divides us from God, and the curtain that keeps us out of the holy of holies in the temple ripping in two is a great sign that Jesus has ripped access to god wide open through his death on the cross. The resurrection of the Saints at Jesus death is a sign of the life that Jesus has purchased.
Jesus own resurrection is an even greater sign and proof, that his innocent death has broken the hold that sin has on our lives, and loosened the grip that death has on all of creation.
Philippians tells us that Jesus obedience even to the point of death, is the reason that God lifted him up to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!
It is with this power and glory that the risen Jesus returns to his disciples. He tells them to go to Galilee where he will meet them. When they arrive he says these words to them: Matthew 28:18-20
18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
These words are called the great commission. That day in Galilee, Jesus gave the church it’s commission – to go and make disciples of all nations with the power of Jesus backing them up.
Compare this great commission to Alec Baldwin’s speech in Glengarry Glen Ross. The movie is set in the recession of the early nineties - He walks into the office of real estate sales and begins to yell at the sales men because they are not selling. He calls them names, he swears at them,(which is why I didn’t use the clip), he questions their manhood, he tells the man getting coffee to put it down, not because he was interrupting, but because coffee is for closers – not for losers like him. He sets out a deal for them – prizes for the top sellers of the month – first prize is a new car, second prize is a set of steak knives, and third prize is, “You’re fired.” He turns over a chalk board with the letters A B C on it and he says that it is as simple as ABC A – always, B – be, C – closing: Always Be Closing, always be closing.
My problem is that I believe that over the last number of generations, we have taken our evangelistic methods, not from Jesus’ words in Matthew 28, but from sales models like we find in Glengarry Glen Ross.
The sales model of evangelism is damaging to discipleship – the sales method of evangelism turns people into consumers of religion.
Erwin McManus says when we bring people into the church as consumers, then we expect them to be participants!
In the sales model of evangelism, sermons on evangelism often sound much like Alec Baldwin’s speech on sales – preachers either encourage us to get out there and close the deal, or berate us for being such bad sales people.