This is my text for my sermon on May 21, the Sixth Sunday of Easter on the Great Commission, Matthew 28.16-20. The pictures at the bottom are in response to the age group question I asked during the message.
+ rev brc
Peace be with you.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
Think about the first line of today’s lesson: When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
This passage is known as the Great Commission; it is Christ’s final command to his disciples, it echoes through time, given not just to the eleven on the mountain in Galilee, but to churches today and beyond. This passage is part of the fabric of what the Church is to do: Go therefore & make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. It is part of the liturgy of ordination and installations. This is at the top of the to do list for followers of Christ.
And it was given to those who When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
Which is good, because that describes us. Some believe, but some have doubts. We wonder why? Why do bad things happen to good people, especially those that I love and care about? Why do the wicked get rewarded? Why aren’t things fair? Why aren’t things easier? How can I be forgiven? How can I be loved? When is it going to stop raining?
We wonder and we doubt. But still we are commissioned.
A commission is different from a command. A command is something you are told to do. A commission is a command, but it comes with the equipping to be able to do it. Having a mission means being sent with a purpose. Having a commission means being sent along with a purpose; you don’t go alone. You are sent with what you need to get the job done.
Who goes along with us in our commission? Jesus said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go THEREFORE …”
Christ has all authority on heaven and earth, and because of that we are to go to make disciples of all nations.
Christ has died & been raised so our sins are forgiven & because of that we are to go to make disciples of all nations.
Christ has died & been raised so death is defeated & because of that we are to go to make disciples of all nations.
Therefore is a strong term. I learned what it meant when I did geometry proofs in a high school math class. I really enjoyed doing proofs, working on the formulas to prove what is true. (I told you all that I’m a nerd.) When you have solved the proof, you make a triangle of dots, which means therefore, and you write the final formula. Therefore means that because of all of this that came before, this is true.
Because of everything that has happened before, because of the ministry of Jesus Christ that the Eleven have experienced, because of His life, death and resurrection, because All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go THEREFORE …”
They are to Go therefore & make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.
Go and make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them to obey.
The first part is to go. Don’t wait on the nations to come to you; go to them. This may not seem like a good idea because they don’t all believe. But Jesus gives them all the same commission. He doesn’t divide them and give one commission to those who worshipped, and another to those who doubted. They are all told to Go.
The reason that I selected these lessons during the Easter season is two-fold. First, I wanted us to hear the stories of Jesus’ resurrection appearances and how it impacted those who experienced the risen Christ. But more than that, I want you to hear that these appearances come with a calling, with a commission. Those who encounter Jesus after he has been raised are told to tell others, to share the Good News.
That extends to us. We need to share the Good News. We need to go and make disciples.
And I’m going to give you a practical example why.
A few weeks ago, I was reading an article that said we don’t know what the church will look like in 10 years, or in what form it will exist. It spoke of a generation gap in the church – that some generations have stopped coming to church. So today, we’re going to do an experiment.
Get out your bulletins, announcements and flyers. In a moment, I’m going to ask you to hold up one of them, and I’m going to take a picture.
If you are 75 years old or older, when I ask, please hold up the white bulletin.
If you are between 50 and 74 years of age, when I ask, please hold up the yellow announcements.
If you are between 25 and 49 years of age, when I ask, please hold up the blue VBS flyer.
If you are under 44 years of age, when I ask, please hold up your hand with nothing in it.
Ready, on three. 1-2-3.
Our commission is to Go therefore & make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. I’m not discounting our mission work in other countries, but we need to Go and make disciples of our neighbors, our relatives and our friends.
If you feel unequipped or unprepared, that’s ok. So too did the Eleven who were first given this commission. They were strengthened by the one part of this lesson I have not yet referenced. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
When I said that the difference between a command and a commission is that a commission comes with the equipping to get the job done, now you know what equipment this commission comes with. Christ is with us, always, forever.
His strength supports us. His wisdom guides us. His presence protects us. His love encourages us. His spirit provides us with the words and the will to go.
We don’t have to go around the world. We only need to go next door, to the person we work next to, to the people we share meals with.
We are commissioned to tell those who matter to us that we love them, that God loves them and that they should get to know God, and God’s love, better. We are all called to do this, whether you believe or whether you doubt.
May you feel compelled to share the love of God with others today, this week and forever. AMEN.
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
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