Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

The Risen King's Commission (Matthew 28)


Rev. Christopher Chelpka

If you're able, please remain standing in will and let's give our attention to Matthew, Chapter Twenty eight. Matthew Twenty Eight, here Matthew accounts for us the resurrection and also the Great Commission that follows. Let us get us our attention to the reading of God's word. Now, after the Sabbath, towards the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen and the other Mary went to see the Tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from Heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and a clothing white as snow, and for fear of him, the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him. See I have told you so. They departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said greetings, and they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, do not be afraid, go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me. While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place, and when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said tell people his disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep, and if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble. So they took the money and did as they were directed, and this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them, and when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted, and Jesus came and said to them all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age. May God bless his word to us. Please be seated. I want to talk to you this morning about the Great Commission. This phrase, the Great Commission, is what we use to describe these last few verses here at the end of Matthew. Twenty eight. Go there, for Jesus tells them, and make disciples of all nations. This command to go and to make disciples, particularly through baptizing them and teaching them. This command that Jesus gives really tells us and gives to us the mission of the church. It...

...really defines much of who we are and what it is we are called to do. In another sense, it explains how it is we are here. These eleven disciples and others after them did exactly what Jesus said, and here we are, disciples, having been baptized and learning to obey and know his commandments. But do we often think about the when we think about the Great Commission, this mission that Jesus is given to us. Do we think about it in terms of the resurrection? Don't think we often do. We often think about it as isolated, something separate on its own. But when you hear Matthew Twenty eight, you see that it's not that way at all, is it? Jesus raises from the dead and immediately there are these commands that are given, first to the women and then to the disciples to go, go and tell this is why he wants to meet with them. He grazes from the dead and he wants to meet with them and he wants to tell them this thing, and the thing that he tells them is very much based on his resurrection. All Authority and Heaven on earth has been given to me. Go there for you see the connection there. When we think about that, we think about the resurrection in general, we've come to see that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is one of the most important things that God has ever done on the earth. Throughout history. There are these things that happen, these moments the change everything, that make everyone's life different from that point forward. He might think about an invention, for example, or a certain kind of discovery. or You could imagine a whether events are like this. Sometimes imagine a hundred year drought how that event would affect everyone who is who in that area, everyone who suffers under that drought. It affects daily life, it affects the way we live. Or a forty day worldwide flood, it affects everything. Right. There are these moments in history, there are these things that happen in life that have a very big impact on humanity as a whole and on our individual lives as well well. The resurrection of Jesus is something like that, only on a much grander scale. Here we have, with the resurrection of Jesus, the binding of Satan, the defeating of death, the Eternal Kingdom of God inaugurated. All the miracles that Jesus did in his earthly ministry were leading up to this point. All of the exorcisms that he did, the casting out of demons, the prophecies that he prophesied, the commanding things that he did were all leading up to this point. In fact, all even all of the Old Testament, all of human history, had been leading up to this point. The flood included the promises to the Patriarchs, all the sacrifices, all the battles, all the kings that God had established and taken a raised up and taken down, all of it was moving towards this point where Jesus, the king, would rise from the dead and all authority in Heaven and on Earth would be given to him, and by that authority he would establish, he would inaugurate and Eternal Kingdom...

...of grace and of glory. God, The Sun, son of man, rising from the dead, victorious over all of these things. That's what this resurrection is about and that's the context in which Jesus speaks to his disciples and says go. Therefore, in light of these things I have done, in light of the resurrection that has happened, in light of my victory over sin and death, I want you to go notice the connections between this event and the commands in Chapter Twenty Eight. First we have it with the women. They go to the tomb to see the Lord Jesus and take care of other burial things of the other gospels mentioned, and when they get there they find an empty tomb. Now this is very surprising for a number of things that come out in this chapter, and we know about from other portions of scripture, but just focusing on the things here, we are reminded that previously, in Chapter Twenty seven, there was a great stone rolled up to seal the tomb. You read about it in verses sixty two through sixty six of chapter twenty seven. I'll read it to you just so you can hear it. The next day, that is, after the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before pilot, these leaders who had worked so hard to crucify Jesus. Now he's dead. That's taken care of. But they go before pilot with this concern and they say, sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was alive, after three days I will rise. So they're co concerned. They're concerned that even though they crucified him, even though he's dead, something's still going to happen, and they ask pilot. They say, therefore, order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, tell the people he has risen from the dead, and the last fraud will be worse than the first. Pilot said, you have a guard of soldiers. Go and make it as secure as you can. So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting the guard. So there is Jesus placed in the tomb, a great stone set and sealed over the tomb, a guard, a Roman guard, standing watch over this to make sure that nothing can be done. So you can imagine the surprise then when Mary and the other Mary get there and the stone is rolled away and the guards are there as though dead on the ground and there's an angel sitting on on the stone. Imagine coming into any portion of your life and finding people lying on the ground as though they are dead. It would be somewhat of a scary thing. I think. When it says that they are afraid, that makes some sense, doesn't it? They're seeing these terrifying things. What's going on? And indeed, this angel, his appearance was like lightning, his clothing white as snow, and for fear of him, the guards trembled and became like dead. So instead of finding guards and a tomb sealed, they find the guards on the ground, an angel on the stone and the tomb empty. So the resurrection has happened, just as Jesus said. It was happened exactly as the the leaders were worried, exactly as the angel...

...has said. Now what happens? We read in Verse Seven. Go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead. That's the first thing that they're supposed to do. Their reaction to the resurrection is to go and tell. Go and tell. That's the connection. That's what God wants them to do. To go and tell the disciples are very specific thing to actually one. He's risen from the dead and too, he's coming to meet you to tell you something else. And so they go. And then it happens a second time. Jesus meets them and sees them on the way and he says greetings, and they take hold of his feed and they worship him and he says, don't be afraid, go and tell, go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see me. And then what happens when they get there? Jesus says, go and tell, he says go, he says to the disciples. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. What is a disciple? What's involved in making a disciple? Well, it involves a lot of telling. A disciple is simply a student, a pupil, a follower of someone else. Now, a disciple, though, is not a kind of take it or leave it kind of student. Perhaps you've been in classes where you just had to jump through a hoop to get a credit or something, and you show up and you sit there and you leave. That's not a disciple. A disciple is someone who goes and is dedicated to this teacher, who wants to learn everything that the teacher has to say, that will do what they say, listen to what they have up to tell them, someone who seeks to learn whatever the master teaches to do whatever the master says. That's what a disciple is. Interestingly, he gives this command to go and make disciples to the disciples. They know something about what it means to be a disciple, both the good and the bad. These eleven men are people that have done well and have done very poorly at being a disciple, mpele. They know what it means to follow the Lord, to hear his teachings, to obey his word. For a few years now they have been following, listening, obeying, and that's what Jesus wants them to do. He wants them to go and make other disciples, and this is important, this disciple word. He's not interested in people that are just wanting to be famous in connection with the great resurrected Jesus. He's not seeking people who are wont to be onlookers or curiosity seekers or people that just start looking for something to do or someone to follow. He wants disciples and what they and that's what he wants them to go and do. That's going to involve calling people and or telling people about the risen Lord, about the things that he said, the things that he's done, the thing, the resurrection that has happened. It involves a kind of maximalist approach to Jesus's commands. Notice what he says in Verse Twenty. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. He wants those who follow him to understand everything, everything that he wants from them. That's a lot.

Jesus doesn't tell the disciples. Boil it down to the bare minimum. Boil it down to the bare minimum, give people a few bare facts and and encourage them to do the best they can. He says. Teach them to observe all that I have commanded you, everything Jesus said about love, everything Jesus said about service, everything Jesus says about the sacraments and marriage and children and church, government and the workplace and how we call elders and enroll widows and everything where. To be followers of Jesus, disciples of Jesus, learning and desiring to know everything that he has commanded. This is the command that he gives its disciples. Go and make these kind of disciples, call them to make a commitment to me, baptize them in the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit, teach them to observe all that I've commanded you. So let's pause there for just a moment as we consider this command, and I want to ask you, do you know everything that Jesus has commanded? He's called his disciples to observe everything or to follow or to obey everything that he has commanded. Do you do that? Do you know it? Do you know what he wants you to do? Does he know how he wants you? Do you know how he wants you to live? That's what it means to be a disciple. And when we go to our family and our friends and our enemies and we seek to make disciples. Are we teaching them these things? Are we telling them about Jesus? Do we have a kind of maximal list approach to being a disciple of Jesus? Well, it's obvious that there is a lot of weakness in that. Isn't there a lot of weakness in us and our own discipleship, a lot of weakness as we, as the church, do this thing that Jesus has commanded us to do? There's all kinds of reasons for that. One reason is that it's hard. It's very hard. Jesus has called us to do amazing and beautiful and wonderful things, but things that are sinful. Nature fights against. You remember, Jesus is parable of the so or sowing seeds and the seeds following falling in different places, some in rocky ground, some in places where birds kind of grab it and take it away, sometimes the sea needs fall, and places where the weeds and the cares of the world choke them up. It's hard for these kinds of seeds to grow. Jesus says part of the difficulty is the opposition that we face, both as his disciples and as disciple makers. Notice the opposition that's that we read of just here in this chapter. There's this going and telling, right, that Jesus commands, but notice there's this other kind of telling, that the that the leaders tell the soldiers verse thirteen. Tell people his disciples came by night and stole them away while we were asleep. That's what we want you to tell them. That's the lie we want you to spread. There is real opposition involved against the Gospel, against being a disciple, against making disciples, and opposition that's not weak. These are the people that crucified the son of God. These...

...are the people that had the power to command a Roman guard to watch the Tomb. These people are powerful. They have money. To notice, they give a sufficient sum to these soldiers to go and lie. Think about what that it doesn't say how much money that would be, but how much money would do you think you would require, as a soldier who who's failed to do his job and could be executed for that? How much money would it require for you to go and lie about what had happened? Well, hopefully no amount of money would pay you off, but you can imagine people, even in their sin, would would ask a fair amount. Notice they're being asked to even lie about being asleep. They're being asked to lie and say, Hey, you know, we weren't doing our job. It's true. We failed to stay awake and do the one thing that we were commanded to do. And Yeah, his disciples came into stolen the exact thing we were supposed to not let happen. That's what they're being paid to say. And notice what they say. The first of all, they convinced the soldiers to say it. They give them enough money to do this. And then they say, and if all, if this happens to come to the governor's ears, the one who could get you in big trouble for saying this and falling asleep on the job, and so on and so forth, don't worry, because we'll satisfy him, we'll pay him a bribe to and we'll keep you out of trouble. You see what I mean when I say there's real money involved here. A governor is not going to take that lightly. He's going to require something fairly serious, and the Jews are happy to pay it. Happy to pay it, happy to keep this Qu I, happy to spread the lie. They're using their money, they're using their power to destroy the Christian message, to suppress the resurrection and to keep the Commands of Jesus about making disciples from not happening. Nothing has changed. There is still opposition to the Gospel and they're always will be opposition to the Gospel. Being a disciple, making disciples is a hard thing. It costs. It means not taking bribes, it means not cowering, it means having conviction and saying yes, I'm a Christian, even when it might mean being put to death. That's the kind of disciples Jesus once and that's why it's hard and that's why we're afraid. But notice what Jesus says to you would be disciples and to you who already are. He says in his very last words here, the very last sentence of the book of Matthew, and behold, I am with you always to the end of the age, the resurrected Jesus, the one who has conquered sin and Satan and death, he is with us, he is powerful. Notice how this all his book ended. This command comes with these two great statements on either end. One all authority in Heaven on an earth has been given to me, go, therefore, and on the other side, and behold, I am with you always to the end of the age. It's like the command is wrapped in a big bear hug, this big promise, and Jesus says, I've got you, I'm going to protect you, I will keep you. Do not fear, have courage, be strong, be people of conviction, because I'm the resurrected Lord. All Authority in...

Heaven on an earth belongs to me. Go be strong. This is the kind of promise that God gave the Patriarchs, that he gave Joshua when he went into the land. This is the kind of promise God gives to his people when he establishes his kingdom and he says, I've got you and I will protect you and, as he says in another place, even the gates of hell will not stand against you. I will build my church. And he has, and he has, because here we are, and if you don't know Jesus today and you are not yet his disciple, here you are being made a disciple, being told about Jesus, hearing his promises, hearing of his power, hearing about the resurrection and being called to follow him. So God gives us this command, but it's a command that's rooted on this promise. So let us be courageous, let us not fear. Do you need to become a disciple of Jesus, and are you afraid? Don't be afraid, because all authority in Heaven and earth belongs to him. There's no one else to follow, there's no one else who can protect you and love you and keep you and bring you into everlasting life like he can do. You need to be a disciple, and are you afraid? Don't be afraid. Believe and trust in Jesus. And if you are a disciple and you fear being a disciple, you fear making disciples, you fear observing all the things that he has called you to observe, do not be afraid, have courage, because it's not anyone who sends you, it's Jesus, the risen king. Amen.

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