Summary: Unearth the motivation and reasoning behind Christ’s last words to his disciples in this breakdown of the Great Commission from Luke’s perspective.
“The No-One-Ever-Told-Me Syndrome”
(From “Easter Linebacker” video intro) TRANS: Again, not your best method for relating to your culture, but it sure makes us think, doesn’t it? It’s one way to open up the eyes of those round us, eh?
Speaking of eyes being open, how about a quick review? What are some reasons people don’t believe from Luke 24?
1. The Second-Hand Syndrome
2. The Forest-for-the-Trees Syndrome
3. The Too-Good-to-be-True Syndrome
This week, we look at a fourth reason people don’t believe, and this reason finds it roots in verses 45-49 of Luke 24. It’s what I call the “No-One-Ever-Told-Me” Syndrome. In fact, this very reason – sure, we have put it in our own verbiage – forms the foundation for Christ’s last words to his disciples, and gives us the backdrop for the mission Christ bestowed upon them. Jesus wanted his followers to spread the word! Sure, they now knew it was true, but so many others were still unaware; many more had yet to hear! So he gives them some instructions designed to make sure no one ever says, “But no one ever told me?!” Let’s see what those instructions are, shall we? Look at 24:45-49…
• We read that he “opened their minds.” Did you know this was the second body part to be ‘opened’ by Christ? The first was their eyes in 24:31, and now their minds in 24:45. And how did he do it? Through Scripture!
• Yes, upon the heels of their human amazement (24:40-43), Jesus uses Scripture to turn it to spiritual belief. This is the power of the Word in action – it brings belief! And all through this chapter we have seen this repeated, haven’t we? As Paul said in 1 Thess. 4:13 and as the writer of Hebrews told us, God’s Word is living and powerful!
• As soon as they are brought into a realization of what is really going on, they are commissioned to help others experience the very same thing. How? By preaching repentance and forgiveness! By the way, this is third body part Jesus open – their mouths! And you gotta love that progression – eyes, mind, and mouths. (On a side note, when we get that in reverse order, we tend to get in trouble, don’t we?)
• Jesus was clear that both repentance and forgiveness go hand in hand, for it is repentance that activates God’s forgiveness. Yes, his forgiveness already there, but when we confess our sin (1 John 1:9), agreeing with God about it, then we experience what has already technically happened. It’s like endorsing a check that is already written.
• As I read 24:48-49, I am hit with this simple realization: The mission we’ve seen throughout Luke is possible! Jesus delivers what the Father has promised: the Spirit. In fact, John indicates he breathed on them the Holy Spirit. And that is what enabled the disciples – and consequently us – to be “on mission.” This was how God was going to keep people from the “No-One-Ever-Told-Me” Syndrome. Yes, the mission is possible, thanks to the Father, Son and Spirit – and you!
Did you get that last word – you?!? Perhaps you’re wondering, “Me? Am I really necessary? Valuable? Important?” You bet! You see, in a nutshell, Jesus is simply saying to them, “What you now see you must now share!” Now that their eyes and minds had been opened (24:31, 45), Christ expected their mouths to follow suit! And no one else could do the witnessing; they were the ones with whom it had to begin. That is truly the point of thee verses – take what you now believe and boldly share it around the world.
Hold on for a minute, though – you may think I’m asking you to leave here and start verbally testifying to everyone you meet, giving them the four spiritual laws and a quick sinner’s prayer. No offense meant here, but that’s the last thing I’m looking for as a result of this message. Leaving here with lips that are “armed and dangerous” could be a bad idea!
Instead, leave here with a life committed to the truth of the Gospel – open eyes and minds – and watch your lips speak naturally about it! That’s the sequence of events – the order of priority – I hope you will seek.
In fact, I find it interesting that Christ asked them to be witnesses. Not once in this text do we see a command to “do” witnessing; no, the disciples were to be witnesses. One is a task, the other a lifestyle. One is a program, the other a process. And what Christ is emphasizing here is the nature of our outreach – it is to be relational at its core. First, vertically relational, and then horizontally relational. But in every direction, our outreach and witnessing is, at its core, a relational strategy. We become something – eye-witnesses of the truth! Then, that spills out into everything we do! Do you see it now – life and lips!