I was honored when my sister asked me to preach at her ordination in St. Paul, Minnesota. When she told me the text that I was to preach on for the ordination service, I was not surprised in her choice of Scripture. The text was Matthew 28:16-20, “The Great Commission.” Even though, she is 11 years younger than me, I always looked up to her as she is a disciple and missionary of Jesus Christ.
The command seems simple, “Go, make disciples, baptize, and teach them to obey all that I have commanded.” It seems easy enough, right? However, as I pondered this command to us, a couple of questions kept coming to mind. First, if it was easy, then why does Jesus say that “He will be with us always?” If it was easy, why would we need Jesus? Second, why did the disciples worship Him when they saw Him, but “some doubted?” For me, I could not shake what this text was really saying to me – and to us!
To address the latter, “worshippers and doubters,” acknowledges, ‘right off the bat,’ we all struggle with our faith. However, I don’t think we do not believe that Christ was crucified, died, and was resurrected, but something even more profound! I believe that we cannot grasp and doubt that our God would truly love us so much to be willing to send His only Son to this chaotic world and be willing to take our sin – which means, Jesus really died – like died a horrible death just so you and I would not ever have to! I cannot help but to imagine that those disciples fell to their knees when they saw Jesus and their doubt was, “This can’t possibly be true! It is too good to be true!” In fact, if it were me, I would be afraid that Jesus would call me out for leaving Him to go die on the cross by Himself! But, yet Jesus steps forward to tell the disciples that He is now the one in charge! He emphasizes that He is not here to condemn us, but to send us out into the world for the sake of the Gospel! What an honor and privilege when we certainly do not deserve it!
Second, “Jesus promises to be with us always.” No doubt, if it was so easy to be a disciple and do what Jesus has called us to do, every single one of us would be lining up at the door to live out this call and command. Instead, like the disciples, we live out our lives for Christ in doubt, fear, misunderstandings, lack of faith, and yes, even in worship. Jesus knew there was no way that you and I could do what He has called us to do all on our own. The strength, discipline, and endurance to persevere in this command is overwhelming.
So, for me, this begs the question, “Where do we go from here?” Because it’s all backwards! For example, if my child could not show me the capability to take over my company, I would never entrust him or her to run the company upon my death. Jesus knows we are not capable to honor the call that He has commanded us to do, but, yet still believes in us to carry out His mission!
So, where do we go from here? Well, the only chance we have is to accept and give thanks and praise for the grace, forgiveness, and mercy that Jesus offers us. It is our only hope. In the meantime, we keep trying! We keep on proclaiming Christ every chance we get! We build His Kingdom one day at a time! We do it together! We worship together, even in our doubt. We support each other. We forgive each other. And, we bring others to the love and joy of Jesus! And, most important, know that Jesus is with us – with you – every step of the way.