Summary: The Great Commission flows out of the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, and it gives purpose and meaning to everything!
We’ve just come through the season of Lent, the season of preparation, preparation largely for Holy Week, with the high point being Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is a process, a journey that the Church of Jesus Christ has gone through for the better part of 2000 years.
I think the point of that preparation is to get us ready to more deeply and more fully appreciate and maybe even in a sense experience the suffering and death, and then the glorious resurrection of Jesus. For many of us, it does just that. Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, does just that.
But now we’re here. One week after the high point. And we can be left with some questions, if we’re the questioning type. Was that it? Is the point of Lent and Holy Week and Good Friday and Easter Sunday all about stirring up in us greater faith? Greater devotion to Christ? Greater love for God?
If that were the sole point, that would be good enough, I think for many of us. It is good to have our faith strengthened.
It is good to let in (gesture) at a heart level the profound and incomparable love that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It is good to appreciate even more of the details surrounding Jesus’ decision to go to His death, to understand that as much as Jesus did what He did because God loves the whole world, He also did it, He suffered and died and rose triumphantly, for each of us personally.
So emotionally and intellectually, corporately and individually, we can benefit a lot from paying attention to the Passion of Jesus.
But, I still have to ask, is that it? Does God just want us to have greater faith, greater passion for Him, or is there more? Were the gospel accounts of Jesus Passion solely to strengthen my, our, faith, so that we can live our lives in greater confidence of God’s love? Is that God’s bigger purpose?
I think the gospel of John is helpful here. Immediately after his account of the crucifixion and resurrection, without missing a beat, John takes us to the post-resurrection continuation of the story.
We have the discovery of the empty tomb, the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene, who mistook Him at first as the gardener, and then we have Jesus’ appearance to the disciples in a house.
John 20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Now there’s more that goes on here, including Thomas’ difficulty accepting the news of Jesus’ resurrection, and his eventual joy at seeing the risen Christ himself and his immediate choice to bow down and worship Him, admittedly another good sermon topic. But for now I’d like us to focus on 10 words that belong to Jesus: