Easter Sunday was two days ago and today marks the conclusion of a devotional series on Matthew that I have been posting for my devotion blog – ez710. This concluding post is centered on the Great Commission, the final scene in Matthew’s Gospel. It’s such an obvious overlap with this blog, gcmatrix, that I thought I would double-dip, so here it is . . .
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
The resurrected Christ is about to ascend into heaven where He will sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. His presence will be known in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will come some weeks later on the Day of Pentecost. What last message, what lasting message, does Jesus leave for His disciples? GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES!
I have spent years in ministry that is devoted to living out this Great Commission and to training and consulting with pastors and church leaders in positioning their churches to move the Great Commission forward effectively. What strikes me as I think about all that I have witnessed and learned over the years is that so many churches, perhaps most, provide a broad menu of services, events, activities and programs that have little to do with the Great Commission. I’m concerned about the casual way we tend to handle what seems to be most important to Jesus.
I don’t mean this as an accusation or a judgment – more of an observation. Somehow we’ve lost sight of the main thing. As Jesus said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9). Why are we so reluctant, so unprepared and ill-equipped to be effective as laborers in the harvest? Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19), but it seems that we invest most of ministry in the found.
I hear lots of language these days about the church’s returning to the first century – to be a first century church – to be an Acts 2 church. I wonder, though, if we really know what that means. I wonder if we’re really willing to pay the price that would be required for us to really do so.
There’s no need to go back to first century Palestine even if we could. Twenty-first century USA is a plentiful and ripe field of the lost that needs to be harvested. As we end this look at the the Gospel of Matthew, can we renew our commitment to be disciples that make disciples? I pray that we will. I pray that I will.