By Charles D. Earl
Former Director of Missions, Holston Valley Baptist Assoc., Rogersville
We have arrived at our final session of this quarter from the gospel of Matthew having to do with the life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of God’s only begotten Son, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our lesson for today is taken from Matthew 28:16-20, and is, of course, what we call The Great Commission, and titled “What Do We Do Now.”
We have read about the prophecies of His birth, the announcement to the virgin Mary, and have gathered at Bethlehem and witnessed His birth. We have followed Jesus as He was baptized, called His apostles, and began His ministry of teaching, preaching, and working all kinds of miracles. We suffered with Him through His long night in Gethsemane and saw Him pray as His sweat became as great drops of blood. The soldiers came, arrested Him, took Him away to Caiaphas and Pilate. We saw Him scourged, go through a mock trial, and saw nails being driven through His hands and feet. We saw Him on the cross, dying a terrible, ignominious death and be buried. But, thank God, on that third day He arose, arose victorious over death, hell, and the grave! After spending 40 days with His apostles and others, we gathered there on the mount and saw Him ascend back to God the Father. But if we will only listen He will answer for us our question that is asked in our title of this lesson! There isn’t any need for us to ask what do we do now?
He has already told us what we are to do as His followers! In verses 18-20 Matthew quotes our Lord as He gives us our marching orders! If we will just have one ear half open we can hear Him as He says “Go … make … baptize … teach … and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age!” His apostles gathered with Him there that day listened as He told them exactly and precisely what He wanted them to do, and they gave their lives doing just that!
Now it cost them, oh, how much it cost them! According to tradition all of His apostles, except John, were subjected to indescribable deaths. They tell us Peter, the apostle who denied his Lord, was crucified as he watched his wife crucified beside him crying to her, “Remember Christ! Remember Christ!” Some of the apostles were run through with spears, burned at the stake, and were dragged behind chariots until they died. The apostle Paul was beheaded in Rome on the Apian Way. But they had heard and were faithful to the commission they received there that day when Christ gave them and us our orders. But what have we done?
Mark Twain was once heard to say, “Those parts of the Bible I don’t understand don’t bother me all that much, but those parts I do understand they bother me a lot!” Well, we all understand the Great Commission! The only question we should ask ourselves is: Are we doing what Jesus commissioned us to do? All of us need to listen to what Jesus has already told us to do, and then do it! Let us ask God to help us be faithful to His commission. Listen closely and we will be able to hear the words: “Go … make … baptize … teach … and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age!” May God help us as we seek to finish the task!