The Great Commission is a wonderful thing to be involved in.


    The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some hesitated because they were uncertain. Jesus approached and spoke to them saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and gather disciples from all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to keep all the instructions I have given you. And surely I am with you always until the end of the age.”


    Jim Carrey played in a comedy movie called “Bruce Almighty,” where he was complaining to God about something, so God decided to let him play God for a day or something like that. It wasn’t pretty. If you were God for a day, if you had all of the power in the world to do anything you wanted, what would you do with it? How would you rule?


    Think about what Jesus was saying to the disciples. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Not SOME authority, ALL authority. Where? EVERYWHERE - in heaven AND on earth! He had died for the sins of the world. He had risen from the dead. This was the same Guy who in HUMILITY had walked on water, raised the dead, stilled storms, and now He was now using ALL of His powers, and He had divine authority to do anything He wanted with them.


    He had planned to meet with His disciples on the top of a mountain in Galilee, and so Matthew gives us an inside scoop about what happened at that time! What was He going to do now?!? They must have been eager to find out! Jesus could have told the 11 disciples to do anything He wanted! Make PBJ’s and give them to the poor. Jump off a bridge. Raise the dead. Heal the sick. Walk on water. Anything! And what did Jesus say? Therefore go and gather disciples from all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to keep all the instructions I have given you.


The Almighty Jesus Commissions Us to Go With Water and Word


    That’s it? No talk of overthrowing Rome? Taking over the temple? No armies. No tanks. No governments. No buildings. Just use water and the Word. It seems so strange, doesn’t it? But Jesus created the world with His words. He raised the dead with words. He Himself was baptized with water, and the Holy Spirit came on Him with power. It may seem weak, but it’s not. God’s Word is POWERFUL and effective, the Bible says.


    And WHO does He give this commission to? 11 run of the mill guys. Some fishermen, a zealot, and a tax collector. There’s nothing special about them at all, even with their faith in some ways. Today’s text says that even when the resurrected Jesus was standing right in front of them, some hesitated because they were uncertain. Think about it, if there is any chronological order to this at all, this would have been AFTER He had come to them in the upper room and told them to STOP DOUBTING and believe, and they STILL doubted. But Jesus wanted THEM, THESE DOUBTERS, to be the ones who would have the future of Jesus’ kingdom in their mouths and hands. You would think He would have picked better people for such a task.


    Don’t we say the same things about ourselves as well? Here He gives us children and grandchildren. He gives us opportunities to speak with our neighbors and co-workers. And what do we do? We doubt. We fear. We say nothing. So why would He want US either? Is He blind? Is He foolish to think He’ll get ANYTHING done through US?!? No. God is neither blind nor foolish.


    Well, it’s got to be grace then, right? It’s got to be mercy. God has NEVER based His choice on our worthiness. It’s always based on His undeserved love for humans and sinners, just like us. It’s also got to be that God can still accomplish His purpose through His Word and sacrament, even through weak and sinful DOUBTERS like us. Think of Elijah who fled from God and just wanted to die, but God kept using Him and speaking through Him anyway, and His Word kept on working just like God said it would. God’s grace and mercy are not bound by your doubts. His power is not bound by your sin either. He still works through us, even in spite of us at times.


    Jesus could have chosen His angels to be His full time messengers. He could have chosen to speak Himself from heaven. But He chose to use His disciples. He chose to use US too! Think about what a neat thing it is to be involved in the PROCESS. When I played on sports teams growing up, some of my most miserable experiences were from sitting on the bench and never getting to play. I wanted to be INVOLVED. God involves us in ministry, even though he knows we will mess up, He still is able to work out victories time and time again. When you get to see that first hand, it’s an awesome thing. Think of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. The Holy Spirit directed him to the chariot where the eunuch was sitting. He “just happened” to be reading from Isaiah 53 - out of ALL the chapters in the Old Testament - one of the most specific verses that speaks of Jesus’ death for the sins of the world. Philip was able to not only tell him about Jesus, but the eunuch also believed and was baptized right then and there!


    Therefore go and gather disciples from all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to keep all the instructions I have given you. One powerful tool we have is baptism. It’s not just some sort of magic rite or formula that we use. It’s interesting to note that Jesus told us to baptize IN the name of and not WITH the name of. We are baptized into the Triune God, not just WITH the name of the Triune God. God is giving us the authority to place people in the realm of the Triune God, to put them INTO Him. Thinking of taking some water and pouring it INTO a cup. We are the empty cup. Baptism pours the Triune God INTO us as the water flows OVER us.


    The NAME is the reputation. God the Father is oftentimes thought of as the Creator. The Son is the Redeemer, the One who paid for our sins with His bloody death on the cross and rose from the dead to conquer death. The Holy Spirit is the One who enables us to believe in Jesus. He opens our eyes and our hearts to cling to Jesus as our Lord and Savior. So when we are baptized into the name of this God, we are receiving all that this Triune God does for us. We are being made HIS as He puts HIS name on us. We recognize that not only are we God’s creation, but we are also His adopted and paid for children, and we can then cling to Jesus as our Savior.


    You go to buy a car. They pull out the contract. There is a place for your signature. With that signature you are saying, “I will pay for this car. It is now mine.” When you are baptized God puts His signature on you. He says, “You are now mine. I have adopted you into my family. I have bathed you in my blood. I have paid for you, and now I have given you my Holy Spirit. You are now my child.”


    Who would think that such a seemingly small amount of water poured over the head could do such a powerful thing? Yet Paul also wrote in Romans 6:3–4, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” This is how Jesus chose to expand His kingdom. This is how He chose to make disciples of all nations, everyone, of every age and place, through the waters of baptism.


    But that’s not all He authorizes us to do. He also commands us to TEACH His Word. What a blessing it would be for these doubters to be commissioned by Jesus to go and teach the very things that they doubted, and see how God would work through the Word to bring unbelievers to faith! Imagine how wonderful it must have been for the disciples to teach the throngs of people who had come to Jerusalem on Pentecost and see the church grow by 3,000 people in one day!


    As you do this, Jesus promises you a wonderful thing, And surely I am with you always until the end of the age. He isn’t with you some of the time or part of the time. He is with you EVERY DAY, until the end of this age. In your baptism, through the Word, He sticks with you through the thick and the thin. He grows in you and you grow in Him. And if you have Jesus, you also have forgiveness, you have peace, and you have hope. What a blessing, especially in this age! We need Him more now than ever, because the “age” is getting more and more wicked.

When someone says to you, “Let’s go,” it depends on how you’re feeling and where they want to go. “Let’s go fishing. Let’s go camping. Let’s go shopping. Let’s go eat.” Does that mean I’m buying? Am I going to have to clean the fish? Set up camp? It seems the older I get, the more I don’t really want to go anywhere. I’d rather just stay home.


    Jesus tells us to “go” today on a mission. The sinful nature says, “No thanks. I’m good. I’m not ready. I’d just mess up anyway.” It can be a challenge and it can be difficult. But it also can be very exciting and rewarding as well. The neat thing is that we don’t need a car. We don’t even need legs. We can simply use our mouths or maybe even just our fingers on a keyboard. Old and young alike can go on this journey. All we need is some water and the Word of God, and we all have plenty of that at our fingertips.


    This is a journey worth going on! When we use these simple elements, powerful things happen. People’s eyes are opened to see that they are God the Father’s special creation and God the Son’s redeemed children as the Holy Spirit opens their eyes to see who He is: a three-in-one of a kind God. People are saved from hell and despair! We too grow in faith to cherish our own baptisms and know the Word better as God involves us in the process, no matter how old or young we may be. We have powerful weapons to use, and we are authorized by Jesus to use them. It’s worth the journey. Therefore, go!

    Amen.

The Message by: Ed Morse

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Matthew 28:16-20