After the resurrection of Jesus, the earliest followers and disciples of Jesus had to ask themselves, “What now?” They had abandoned their securities and ways of life to follow Jesus and had in turn experienced an emotional roller coaster filled with joy, sadness, and hope. And after Jesus reveals himself to those followers, he informs them that they are witnesses of all of these things. (Luke 24:48). But what does this mean? How should our lives change because of that experience?
Whereas Luke proceeds into Acts to describe the movement of the early church, Matthew leaves his gospel audience with a transformational message of direction and purpose. This message is often identified as The Great Commission. They are four verses that have life-changing influence if we allow them to shape our lives. In them, Jesus calls his followers to go make disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all that he has commanded. (Matthew 24:19-20)
The Barna Group recently published a study called the The Great Disconnect that examines the role of the Great Commission in our lives. They found that most Christians tend to believe that missions is calling for some and not a mandate for all. By accepting this, we allow ourselves to remove personal responsibility from living on mission for God. We can simply say, “That’s not for me, that’s for someone else.” But friends, the Great Commission is not a calling, it’s a mandate. As followers of Christ, we are called (in our own beautiful ways) to share the Gospel, baptize, and live out the example of Christ.
Looking Ahead:This Sunday, May 8th, we will move into the book of Acts and spend time in chapters 1 and 2. The focus of this week’s lesson will be the movement of the Holy Spirit and the example of the early church in Acts 2.