Go and Tell – Matthew 28:16-20 – Pastor Brian
A healthy church is a church that makes disciples. How do we make disciples of Jesus?
We are continuing our summer series, “What is a healthy church?” Scripture tells us that a healthy church is a church that inspires people to follow Jesus that makes disciples. A disciple of Jesus is one who wants to be like Jesus.
When the Bible tells us that we are to make disciples, it can be intimidating. We might hesitate and think, why would anyone want to listen to me and be a follower of Jesus? Regardless of our fears and doubts, all of God’s people are called to make disciples.
Matthew 28:16-20, is often referred to as the “Great Commission.” I like to think of it as, “Go and Tell.” Every follower of Christ is commanded to “Go and Tell” the story of Jesus. How do we do that? How do we live out this Great Commission? How do we make disciples of Jesus?
1) We make disciples even when we have doubts. Despite our hesitancies we are called to show others how to follow Jesus. Though we may feel inadequate we are commanded to reach out to people who don’t yet know Jesus. (vv.16-17)
Followers of Jesus were being commissioned on a mountain in Galilee. Commission as a verb means to engage, charge, appoint, enlist, or empower. Jesus charges all of His disciples to engage in telling the good news of how all the guilt and shame of sins past, present and future have been overcome by His death and resurrection. Jesus has removed the shackles of sin and appoints all believers to tell the world this message.
We have been enlisted by God Almighty to tell the story of Jesus. God has empowered His people, the Church, to introduce Jesus to those who do not yet know Him. We are commissioned as followers of Christ to present Jesus to the world and teach them about His ways. A healthy church is a church where God’s people Go and Tell the good news of Jesus. A healthy church is a church that makes disciples.
Imagine being one of the eleven followers of Jesus. After three years of living with Jesus He’s gone. You’ve experienced a full, exciting, sometimes dangerous time, left everything, and dedicated your life to Him and His teachings. Now you find yourself on a mountain top being commissioned to “Go and Tell” the story of Jesus. Yet as verse 17 says, “And when they saw Him they worshipped Him, BUT some doubted.”
How could some disciples doubt that this man on the mountain was really Jesus? Previous to verse 16, religious Jewish leaders, the chief priests and elders, had heard from Roman guards about the resurrection of Jesus. Instead of believing in the message of Jesus, these religious rulers felt threatened by Him. So much so they paid soldiers money to spread a lie. They spread the lie that the “disciples stole the body of Jesus during the night while everyone slept.” (v.28:13)
Which camp do you think you would be in? Would you worship or be hesitant to believe this was truly Jesus? It would be amazing on one hand to realize that you are standing before Jesus, but on the other hand it would be tempting to believe the lies of the religious leaders and make you hesitant to accept that this was really Jesus.
Do you find yourself sometimes questioning the truth of the Bible? Whether you’re a brand-new believer or have been a Christian for a long time, have you ever been hesitant to fully accept some of the stories in the Bible? The Bible is God’s story of His Son Jesus. Every aspect of the Bible points to the risen Christ. If we doubt any part of it, we are doubting God and therefore Jesus.
At the root of doubt is unbelief. As defined, doubt calls into question the certainty of truth. It causes us to overthink and to self-question ourselves. Doubt is related to belief. Do I sincerely believe Jesus lived, died and rose again to set me free from the guilt and shame of my wrong thoughts, attitudes and actions? Am I willing to stake my reputation upon this belief?
Because we are sinful and imperfect people, we will have doubts. Yet even in our doubts, God’s people are given the privilege to represent Jesus and tell His story. In our doubts, we are called to “Go and Tell" as ambassadors of Jesus and help others become followers too.
Making disciples begins with sharing your faith. Telling others about Jesus can be intimidating but here’s what I have come to understand. We have made making disciples too complicated. Think about what moved you most when first introduced to Christianity. Was it understanding justification, sanctification and glorification or was it simply that Jesus loves you so much that He died on the cross for your sins and mine?
The Apostle Paul simplifies the Gospel, the story of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:3, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
Personal stories of lives changed by this simple message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, are often more powerful than an eloquent theological discourse. While you are interacting with people, consider looking for opportunities to “Go and Tell” your story of faith. In this season of confusion, chaos and isolation, people are more interested in connecting with you than you might think. By “Going and Telling” how Jesus has impacted your life, you are connecting with others and making disciples. We are called to make disciples even when we have doubts.
2) We make disciples by the authority of Jesus. By faith, we can tap into the authority of Jesus when making disciples. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth to help us make disciples. We make disciples in the authority of Jesus. Look at verses 18-19. Because Jesus Christ has been given all authority, we can obey Him without fear or doubt. No matter where He leads us, or what circumstances we face, He is in control.
In a few weeks we will begin our next preaching series through the book of Acts. You will see in Acts that the early church grew by the Lord’s authority. The church ministered and depended upon His power and guidance. Believers did not face a lost world on their own authority, but by the authority of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus resides in every disciple, we have access or rights to His authority.
Because of the authority of Jesus, we are “to go therefore and make disciples.” We are to make disciples while we are going through life by the authority of Jesus. Put another way, we are to “Go and Tell” others about Jesus by the full power of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It’s not through us that lives are challenged and changed. It is in the supremacy, the superiority, and the sovereignty of the Triune God, the Trinity, that transforms people.
3) We make disciples by teaching about Jesus. When we teach new followers, Jesus promises to be with us. Teaching the Word of God is a necessary part of making disciples and we are not alone, because Jesus promises to be with us. Look at verses 19-20.
It is not enough to just introduce Jesus to people; we must teach them the Word of God. This is a huge part of the Great Commission. It is the responsibility of every believer, not just a small group to “Go and Tell” about Jesus and to teach them His ways. How much stronger and happier our church would be, if each of us were discipling someone.
You might be one who enjoys “Going and Telling” but feel hesitant about teaching. But there are those who love teaching. SanLo has wonderful teachers who would be excited to teach new Christians in the ways of Jesus. That’s the beauty of belonging to a body of Christ. Making disciples is not necessarily a solo act. By being a member of a church, you can “Go and Tell” and another person can teach the new believer about Jesus.
Why make disciples? We have been enlisted and empowered by God to live a life looking for opportunities to tell the good news of God’s grace, love, and forgiveness that is found in Jesus alone. If you have ever thought that you could not disciple anyone, I hope you reflect upon who has made an impact upon your life.
Making disciples in this fast-paced world, connection is key. I heard the other day that this COVID cloud has created a 30-40% drop in church attendance. Do you know why? People began to ask themselves, why go to church? I can get sermons and worship online. Besides who would miss me? Sadly, one person realized after 10 years there was not a single individual they felt genuinely attached to in the church. After 10 years, no real relationships were built.
How do we make disciples of Jesus? We make disciples even when we doubt, and by His authority, teach the way of Jesus. What is that way? It is learning how to love others as Jesus loves, through the joys and sorrows of life. It can be challenging to nurture authentic relationships but so worth it when a genuine friendship is found. Making disciples is life-giving and meaningful when relationships are grounded in the love of Jesus.
Making disciples is not a project or task to be completed. People are not projects. People are people who desire community and connecting. While we “Go and Tell,” a good place to start is learning to love others as Jesus loves you.