Summary: Apostles, Pt. 23 (Final)
A story recounts the return of Jesus to heaven after His time on earth. He returned bearing the marks of His earthly pilgrimage with its cruel cross and shameful death. The angel Gabriel approached Him and said, “Master, You must have suffered terribly for people down there.”
“I did,” said Jesus.
“And,” continued Gabriel, “Do they now know all about how You loved them and what You did for them?”
“Oh, no,” said Jesus. “Not yet. Right now, only a handful of people in Palestine know.”
Gabriel was perplexed. “Then what have You done,” he asked, “to let all people know about Your love for them?”
“Well, I’ve asked Peter, James, John, and a few others to tell people about Me. Those who are told will in turn tell others, and the Gospel will be spread to the farthest reaches of the globe. Ultimately, all of humankind will hear about Me and what I have done on their behalf.”
Gabriel frowned and looked skeptical. He knew that people weren’t dependable. “Yes,” he said, “but what if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? And what if, way down in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, people get too busy to bother telling others about You? Haven’t You made any other plans?”
“No, I’ve made no other plans, Gabriel,” Jesus answered. “I’m counting on them.”
God has entrusted and charged the church with the Great Commission. This passage is traditionally called “The Great Commission,” not “The Great Suggestion,” as someone reminded. There is no alternative but to put God’s word to practice. If the church is not reaching the lost, the church becomes part of the lost, part of the problem and not part of the solution, just as many liberal churches who forsake the ministry of lost souls for social concerns found out.
The Greek text reads, “Go therefore, make disciples…baptizing them…teaching them.” As you can see, there is no “and” word connecting “go” and “make disciples.”
What is Christ’s challenge to the disciples and to the church? What happens to a church without evangelism and missions? Should we stop at conversion?
Avail Yourself to Christ
A communist once challenged a Western Christian: “The gospel is a much more powerful weapon for the renewal of society than is our Marxist philosophy, but it is we who will finally beat you...We Communists do not play with words. We are realists, and seeing our object, we know how to obtain the means...We believe in our message, and we are ready to sacrifice everything, even our life...But you people are afraid to soil your hands.” (“Called and Committed: Work-Changing Discipleship,” David Watson, Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, or Discipleship, Hodder and Stoughton pp 3-4, 1982)