Summary: The urgent task and maximum priority of the Church is the fulfillment of our Lord’s final instruction. The Way of the Cross does not end at the crucifixion or with the resurrection. It ends 50 days after Passover with the Great Commission. We bleed evangelism.

Message by Eddie Fernandes

(Click series title) Introduction

We end a 12-week journey today. We have been in a 3-month study on the Stations of the Cross. We did not follow the traditional 14 stations. We will also not end at Calvary, as most traditions do. Let me remind you of the 11 places we visited, with different preachers helping us grasp truths at each of those stations. All of these took place within the last week of the life of Jesus prior to His death on a cross. We began with the Last Supper. On the screen you will see a slide with all of our messages to date. I am not going to say all the titles, but I will ask the multimedia team to leave that slide on for 30 seconds: (Click all titles one slide)

• MAY 10: The Last Supper – The centrality of Fellowship (1/12)

• MAY 17: The Garden of Gethsemane – The vitality of Intercession (2/12)

• MAY 24: The Sanhedrin – The cruelty of Injustice (3/12)

• MAY 31: The High Priest’s Courtyard – The essentiality of Forgiveness (4/12)

• JUNE 7: The Via Dolorosa – The universality of Suffering (5/12)

• JUNE 14: The Via Sacra – The nobility of Service (6/12)

• JUNE 21: The place of the skull – The scarcity of Essentials (7/12)

• JUNE 28: The Mount of Calvary – The necessity of Trust (8/12)

• JULY 5: The Garden Tomb – The sagacity of Patience (9/12)

• JULY 12: The Empty Grave – The irrefragability of Victory (10/12)

• JULY 19: The House with bolted doors – The irrefutability of His appearance (11/12)

In each of those places we learned how to respond by studying the response of Jesus. Last week Zaca ministered for the first time in 7 years. I was amazed. Did you enjoy his teaching? He is a critical thinker and an avid reader. In his teaching style he taught us lessons we can learn at the ‘House with the Bolted Doors,’ as the Resurrected Jesus appeared to His astonished Disciples. He taught us there can be no denying the resurrection.

(Click intro title) Today I am going to preach a message titled: The Mount of Olives – The priority of the Great Commission. The Key People we will look at are Jesus and His Disciples. The Key Teaching to be grasped is OBEDIENCE. The Key Scriptures are found in Matthew 28, Acts 1 and Mark 16. This event took place 40 days after the Passover, unlike all of the other events which happened in the space of one week.

Let’s work on the theory defended by some historians. This is just a theory. We cannot pin-point the exact day and year; as such these dates could be out by a couple of years, either way. But this helps us understand. Some believe Jesus rose on Easter Sunday, April 5th, 33AD; or on Nisan 16 in the year 3793 of the Hebrew Calendar. This would have been during the Jewish Festival of Firstfruits. Over the next 40 days He appeared in diverse places to diverse people. His disciples saw him several times, as did His mother and several women. He appeared to two travelers on the Emaus road. He appeared to his family and to doubting Thomas. Finally, he appeared to 500 people at one time. Then, on Friday May 15, AD33, or on the 26th of IYYAR in the Hebrew calendar, He ascended to heaven on the Mount of Olives.

For 10 days following the Ascension His disciples waited in Jerusalem, as He had instructed them to do. Then, exactly 50 days after Passover, and 10 days after His ascension, Jesus sent His Holy Spirit on 120 disciples who were gathered, waiting and praying in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. That day, what seemed to be tongues of fire, descended on those disciples, a mighty rushing wind was felt, they began to speak in unlearned and unknown tongues, and 3,000 people gave their hearts to Jesus. This happened in response to the powerful and anointed preaching of Peter. Thus, the Church of Jesus Christ was born in Jerusalem.

Luke begins his account of the expansion of the Church, called the Book of Acts, by remembering the promise of Jesus. (Click verse a) “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Then they gathered around him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ (Click verse b) He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight” (Acts 1:4-9 – NIV). Let’s dissect the words of Acts 1:8, phrase by phrase.

(Click sub-title) But you will receive power (Acts 1:8a)

It is self-evident why they needed supernatural power and enablement. Throughout the 3.5 year ministry of Jesus they simply didn’t have the same power Jesus had. They had seen with their own eyes Jesus heal the sick, cast out demons, calm the storms, feed multitudes with 5 loaves of bread and two fishes, and even raise the dead. Plus, He preached in such a way that thousands followed Him everywhere He went. They needed this power. The Greek word used is “d??aµ??” from whence we get the word “dynamite” and it means “miraculous force or a special, supernatural power.”

When that power came on the Day of Pentecost everything changed. The power came from on high, as heaven invaded earth. As of that moment the disciples received strength to preach the Gospel with authority; They saw God work miracles in confirmation of the Spoken Word; they were filled with boldness, courage and greatness of mind; they withstood every trial and obstacle; they remained true despite every persecution; they relentlessly shared the message of Jesus filled with love, joy, purpose and passion. Indeed the power of the Holy Spirit made all the difference.

(Click sub-title) When the Holy Spirit comes on you (Acts 1:8b)

Jesus promised dunamin power only after the Holy Spirit came upon them. This was not something they worked up, it was not something they studied and apprehended on their own, this was not some internal human power, this was not of this world. It came from heaven and from the Spirit of God. It was a gift from our Heavenly Father. Dear friends, please think with me: if those disciples received the gift and then began to powerfully proclaim Jesus in different languages, and then equipped at least 3,000 others who joined the Church that day, and then went on to change the entire world because they were full of the Holy Spirit, doesn’t it stand to reason there is something wrong in the Church today? Think about it. 120 set the entire world ablaze because they were full of supernatural power. Today we have entire churches filled with 300, 500, 1000 and even 10,000 people in some countries, yet they cannot even set their own church on fire? There are no signs, no wonders, no miracles but above all the most important sign is missing. I will get to it next. I am sure you will agree with me that the problem is we have hundreds, even thousands of people in our churches, but we are all lacking the gift of the Holy Spirit!

Sadly, God looks down on our churches and sees mere social clubs filled with people content with the status quo. Christian people, by and large, are content with lifeless and powerless religion. God isn’t alive, present and real in believer’s lives and, as such, believers are making little if any change at all in the world. Ouch and amen?! Now listen carefully as I open up my heart. The visible, tangible, and principal sign of the Spirit’s presence in any church is not healings, wonders or miracles. The primary sign of His presence is evangelism…the primary sign is salvation!

(Click sub-title) And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8c)

I love Robert Morgan’s 5-point summary of Acts 1:8. He says:

1. Acts 1:8 is the key that unlocks the door of Acts and the gates of Christian history;

2. Acts 1:8 represents the last known words of Jesus during His earthly ministry. Verse 9 indicates these are the Lord’s final words before being “taken up.” Shouldn’t His last command be our first concern?

3. Acts 1:8 represents the passing of the baton between the Son and the Spirit regarding the divine mission on earth. Jesus passed the baton to the Spirit who passes it on to us. Christian history is the story of what Jesus Christ is continuing to do on earth, by His Spirit working in and through His church.

4. Acts 1:8 provides the table of contents for the book of Acts. Acts 1-7 describe the Gospel’s penetrating Jerusalem; Acts 8-12, Judea and Samaria; and Acts 13-18, the ends of the earth, exactly as outlined in Acts 1:8.

5. Acts 1:8 represents Christ’s agenda for the duration of history till He returns. It’s our personal mandate, and every day of our lives must be spent under its ambition and authority.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. But please understand what I hope to convey today: the main sign of a Revived Church is an evangelizing church, a proclaiming church, a multiplying and growing church. The Last Will and Testament of Jesus is clear: (Click verse) “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 28:19-20 – NIV). The clear instruction? Go and make disciples.

Mark recorded what we call the Great Commission this way: (Click verse) “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned’” (Mark 16:15-16 – NIV). Whether you read Acts 1:8 written by Luke, Matthew 28 written by Matthew or Mark 16 written by Mark, the instruction is crystal clear: be my witnesses…go make disciples…preach the Gospel to all creation! That’s the main sign of a Spirit-filled Church! People who have been changed change other people!

You might be saying: “what about the miracles, healings, tongues and signs and wonders Pastor Eddie? Aren’t they important, aren’t they also indicators the Spirit is present?” Yes, but the healings, wonders and miracles FOLLOW the proclamation of the Gospel. We don’t need to seek them or ask for them. As we are OBEDIENT to the mandate of Jesus, Jesus will CONFIRM the proclamation of the Gospel with signs. The miracles are God’s way of confirming His message preached in Truth. Mark wrote: (Click verse) “And these signs will accompany those who believe…” He then went on to list a number of signs and wonders. And finally he closed his Gospel with these words: (Click verse) “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it” (Mark 16:17 – NIV). Do you see: signs confirm and accompany preaching.

(Click sub-title) Today’s Lesson: At the Mount of Olives the priority is the Great Commission; the clarion call to the Church is Obedience

So my dear friends what does Jesus want us to grasp at the Mount of Olives, the final station of the cross? What does He want us to learn at the last place people saw Jesus in bodily form before He ascended? I think the priority Jesus wanted to imprint in the souls of those present, and of all who read these words through the centuries is: fulfill my mission; complete the work I came to begin.

If you ask me what my main priority is in this life I can tell you without flinching: I exist to make Jesus known to people everywhere. I am called and commissioned to make disciples. Period. Come February 2021 I will have been doing that for 25 years amongst you. Riverside has grown into a Federation with 6 churches from north to south of Portugal. Countless thousands of people have passed through our doors and have heard the Gospel. Annually I travel the globe to share Jesus. This year I was scheduled to preach in 9 nations. I got to go to one and then came Covid and shut everything down. I lost count of the number of countries I have been blessed to preach in. It’s well over 70 nations. I think all of you will agree that if anything defines me it’s preaching. I am a preacher of the Good news; I am His witness.

But may I say this: so are you! The baton was passed on to all of us. We don’t all preach in the same way, we don’t all have the same gift, we don’t all have the same personality, the same measure of authority or even the same anointing, BUT we all are called, commanded, commissioned and empowered by Jesus to open our mouths and share the Gospel. We are all called to be His witnesses.

• I do it from a stage to hundreds and even thousands; you can do it in your home, car, place of work one-on-one, to 2 or 3.

• I do it with a vast knowledge of God’s Word, having studied it for years from Genesis to Revelation; you can do it sharing your testimony and maybe just a couple of verses you learned today.

• I do it as a pulpit preacher; you can do it as a personal friend sharing with a loved one, or at a BBQ, or at a social event. The only requirement is to open our mouths and share the Good News.

• I do it boldly, courageously and with authority. You may say, “I don’t have that same boldness.” I will reply, “you can have the exact same boldness, courage and authority because it isn’t something I nurtured, it is the gift from the Holy Spirit and is available to all.” I was 20 years old when God gave me the gift to be His witness. Because I use the gift He increases and multiples it. Maybe He gave you the gift but you’ve neglected to use it and as such it has remained stagnant or dormant in your life.

(Click sub-title) Conclusion:

I want to draw to a conclusion because I feel God wants to do a deep work in all of our lives today. He wants every single person here to be His witness and to continue the work His Son came to begin. When His disciples asked Him on the Mount of Olives when He would return, Jesus replied: (Click verse) “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” Matthew 24:20 – NIV). Friends, that is happening today like never before thanks to technology. Watch believers in 50 countries declare the Gospel in song and then I will return to pray for us. (Click video of song)

Maybe you never saw yourself or even thought of yourself as a preacher. You are. You are a witness. You witness with your life, but you also witness with your words. The last thing Jesus asked of you and I was: please go and tell the people of the world how much I love them. Tell them about my sacrifice. Tell them I am coming back and whoever believes in me shall not perish but inherit eternal life. I want to keep being a witness. Do you? If you feel you lack the power stand to your feet here or at home and let’s ask God for the gift of the holy Spirit.