Summary: A sermon on the Great Commission, and how St. Patrick was a model missionary.
Sermon Date 03-17-2013 Patrick the Missionary (Chuck Gohn)
Any Irish people here today? A few. Well, sorry to burst your bubble about St. Patrick, I’m sorry, but as the video showed, a lot of the things we know about St. Patrick are myths. He really didn’t drive the snakes out of Ireland. He didn’t apparently use the clover to speak about the trinity. Some suspect that he wasn’t obviously Irish. Some believe he was British or possibly even Scottish. And that also there is still uncertainty whether or not he truly was designated as a saint. We know a lot of things that are false about St. Patrick, but one thing we do know that is true is that St. Patrick was a missionary. Someone who took what we call The Great Commission very seriously, and that is what we are going to look at today. We are going to open our Bibles to Matthew 28:16. If you have been with us for a while, you know that we are going through our core values of worship, discipleship, outreach, and community. You may be seeing that those values tend to blend together.
Today, we are looking at the value of outreach. As I have said about outreach before, there is no mystery about outreach. It is basically just reaching outside of yourself and beginning first and foremost serving others within the church or serving the church. I know there are a lot of people who serve within the church and I really want to just express my appreciation for that because we need people like you. The outreach also involves taking service out into the community; taking the service out into Bellevue. As you know, we have a lot of service opportunities, a lot of nonprofits that we support in Bellevue, but it also means taking the Gospel ideally or taking the service out into the Greater Pittsburgh area. We support ministries like His Place, like Urban Impact. As we see today as we look at the story of St. Patrick, we see that it also involves taking the Gospel into other countries, into other nations. That is what we are going to look at today. Before we discuss St. Patrick, what I wanted to do was go through and remind ourselves about this passage. Again, it is known as The Great Commission. I am going to read through the passage from Matthew 28:16-20 and then we are going to go back and highlight a certain number of words. “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go 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 everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20) This passage is referred to as The Great Commission. In fact, if you are using the NIV Bible, you may see that title above the section called The Great Commission. Again, the Great Commission is just where Jesus basically gave the disciples their marching orders and told them to basically go forth and share the good news of Jesus Christ. This particular passage takes place right around the time of the resurrection where Jesus had just risen from the grave, and he was beginning to make his appearance to a number of people. He appeared to the disciples in Galilee and gave them this commission. A commission that is very familiar to many of us if we have been around the church for any length of time. Today, what I would like to do is quickly go through these passages a few at a time and highlight a few key words that I think are important to remember as we think about The Great Commission.
In the first couple passages, 16-17, it says “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” The first thing I want to point out is this word eleven. We could read over this really quickly, but I think it is a subtle but sad reminder by the gospel writer Matthew about what happened. The idea that we know that Jesus started out with twelve disciples but one of those disciples, Judas, decided to betray Jesus. He went and he took 30 pieces of silver in a reward to turn Jesus in so that he might be crucified. Judas felt such great remorse about that that we went back to the Pharisees. He threw those 30 pieces of silver on the floor of the temple, and then he went out and hung himself. He was filled with such great remorse that he hung himself. Again, this is just a subtle but a sad reminder about the betrayal of Jesus. What I want you to see in this passage is that before Matthew gets into this Great Commission, he basically lets us know that it starts with worship. It goes on to say when they saw him, they worshipped him. This is important because up until this time, with few exceptions, they didn’t really worship Jesus as Lord in the way that we worship him. They may have seen him as a teacher, as a prophet, as a carpenter, as a wise man or whatever, but they didn’t really worship him as Lord. Now they are coming into the situation where they see Jesus and they see the resurrected Christ, and they see him as Lord. We don’t know how they saw him. We don’t know if he just appeared before them. We don’t know if he was standing on a mountain or possibly hovering in the air. We really don’t know what was going on there. All we know is that something happened. When they saw the risen Christ, their hearts were open. They were filled with the presence of God, and they had no option but to get on their knees and begin to worship him. That is what they did. This is important for us especially when you think about this value of outreach. Outreach really starts with worship. It really does. It begins here. Until you get to the point where you move past this idea that Jesus might have just been a good teacher, might have been a good scholar or a rabbi, a carpenter, or even a mythical figure, until you get past that point and begin to worship him as Lord, you will never ever be effective in outreach because you will not have the passion and desire to share about Jesus Christ. You are not going to have the passion and desire to share about simply a guy who was a good teacher or a sage or a rabbi or whatever. This is an important point when we think about the value of outreach.