June 21, 2016
CommonUnity – Week 2 – Common Mission
CommonUnity – Week 2 – Common Mission
Today we continue our new series on CommonUnity, we will look at our common mission. This was the mission that Jesus gave His church for us to accomplish here on Earth. If we do not have a common mission we will not have unity.
Last week we looked at Acts 2:42
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
We discovered that the word fellowship was one of the things that the disciples devoted themselves to. We learned that the word fellowship is the Greek word, “koinonia.”
To hold something in common.”
It is an interdependent relationship.
It is a work of the Holy Spirit
It denotes a unity which is expressed outwardly.
Fellowship, you see, is not just being together, it is doing together!
fellowship is not just doing anything together. It is only doing God’s will together.
Shorter: Fellowship is doing life together to glorify God.
We also looked extensively at the Jesus’ final prayer for us that we would be one as He and Father are one.
Today we look at what we have in Common. What is our unity surrounded around.
Jesus’ entire life was spent on one mission. The Mission That God had sent Him to do.
John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
John 17:4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.
One principle that leaders in any organization understand is that a strong focused mission leads to unity. In fact the Bible talks about this concept many times. One of my favorite passages is Amos 3:3 Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?
Early in my ministry experience there was a lot of talk about creating a mission statement for your church, but we actually don’t need to create a mission statement, because God has done that for us already. Jesus as he was leaving this earth he gave us something called the Great Comission. When ever I hear that term I think of it as the Great Co-Mission. Or the Great Common Mission.
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
There is a lot in these four verses I think we should see.
1. It’s never called the Great Commission in the Bible.
Let’s start with the name. I’ve heard this passage referred to as the Great Commission since I was a kid. Where did that name come from? If you look through the Bible in English, you won’t find Paul, Peter, or any New Testament author calling this command by that name. In fact, there’s no occurrence of “Great Commission” in the whole Bible. Period.
So when did we start calling this passage the “Great Commission”?
It turns out that this passage may have got its summary label from a Dutch missionary Justinian von Welz (1621–88), but it was Hudson Taylor, nearly 200 years later, who popularized the use of ‘The Great Commission.’
Is it a commission? Yes. Is it great? Absolutely. But it’s a relatively new nickname for Jesus’ last words in Matthew (when you consider the 1600+ years that passed beforehand).
It’s interesting: the church was making disciples of the nations long, long, before Christians singled out and elevated this passage.
2. The Great Commission is given to a group, not an individual.
Jesus was betrayed by Judas, one of his 12 apostles. After Jesus was crucified, Judas hangs himself in remorse. That leaves 11 apostles on the third day, when Jesus rises again. Later on, the 11 apostles make their way north to a mountain that Jesus designated ahead of time. Jesus meets them there, and delivers the Great Commission to the group.
When Jesus says, “I am with you always,” the word translated “you” is plural — we shouldn’t overlook the fact that the Great Commission was meant to be carried out in community. It’s not a solo mission.
3. It’s a call to “make disciples,” not to “go.”
When we read the great commission in English, the first word we see is “Go.” That sets the tone for the rest of the passage. And of course, “go” coupled with “every nation” makes many of us think of taking the gospel of Jesus to a foreign country.
In Greek, the main action in Jesus’ command is mathēteúō, which is the Greek word translated “make disciples.” The word for “go” (poreúomai) does mean “to move from one place to another.” However, it’s not the main directive in this sentence.
Here’s a real-life example: “When you go to the store, get some eggs.”
Even though this sentence assumes I’m going to the store, the main instruction here is to get eggs. The Great Commission is similar. Jesus assumes that the apostles will be going about. He tells them that, while they’re going, they should make disciples. I should note that although the main imperative is to “make disciples,” this doesn’t mean we throw “go” out the window. Since Jesus told a group of only eleven guys to make disciples of all nations, the need to “go” would have been understood.
I have conversations with different people and they tell me “Pastor, I don’t have time…” Here is the truth. God doesn’t want more time from you He wants you to let Him be part of all of your time. God is not asking you to carve out time for you to serve here or there. He gave you this time to use it so “AS YOU ARE GOING” you are purposeful in your time.
4. Disciples aren’t just followers.
The word for “make disciples” isn’t just a matter of gathering people who want to hear about Jesus. Although the root of the word Matthew uses means “to learn,” it’s not just about winning an audience of curious students. When Christ talks about disciples, think apprentices. Greek scholar Spiros Zodhiates says this about disciples:
Mathēteúō means not only to learn, but to become attached to one’s teacher and to become his follower in doctrine and conduct of life.
One saying that would have been know in the time of Jesus said that you should be covered in the dust of your Rabbi.
The source of this saying is the Mishnah, Avot 1:4. (The Mishnah is a collection of rabbinic thought from 200 BC to 200 AD that still forms the core of Jewish belief today.) The quotation is from Yose ben Yoezer (yo-EHZ-er). He was one of the earliest members of the rabbinic movement, who lived about two centuries before Jesus:
Let thy house be a meeting-house for the wise;
and powder thyself in the dust of their feet;
and drink their words with thirstiness. (2)
This idea was that you were to follow so closely and be so devoted to your Rabbi that as He walked the dust He would kick up would land on you. In fact several times in the New testament we see the disciples “sitting at the feet of Jesus” this is commonly known as the idea of being a disciple because the feet would get dusty as they would travel. (Washing of the feet)
That’s pretty intense. But that’s the kind of follower Jesus told his apostles to make.
6. The Great Commission flows from Jesus’ authority.
Matthew’s whole gospel builds to this command. And it’s not a simple “take your shoes off in the house” command — Jesus is setting a new expectation for how his followers will live their lives.
It helps to read the verse that comes right before the famous ones. Jesus tells the apostles, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).
This authority is given to Jesus by God the Father (Matthew 11:27). Plus, Jesus rose from the dead — so he’s pretty much the boss now.
7. It’s the first time the Bible lists all three members of the Trinity.
Jesus tells the 12 to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Here’s something you may not have heard before: this is the first time all three members of the Trinity are explicitly listed side by side.
Granted, the Bible has mentioned all three members together before. For example, when Mary is pregnant with Jesus, an angel of the Lord (Father) tells Joseph that Mary’s child (Son) is of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). Another example is Jesus’ baptism: Jesus (Son) comes up from the water, the Spirit descends on him like a dove, and the Father affirms him with a voice from heaven (Matthew 3:16–17; Mark 1:10–11; Luke 3:22).
However, it’s not until the Great Commission that the Bible finally comes out and lists all three. There’s a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit, and disciples are supposed to be baptized in their name (and that’s a single name).
Why is this important? Because the fact that the God has given us the Holy Spirit gives us the power to live the life that Jesus calls us to live.
8. Baptism was the mark of becoming a disciple.
In English, we might read the Great Commission as a list of four instructions:
– Make disciples.
– Baptize them.
– Teach them.
But that’s not really how it’s worded. We’ve already established that the command here is to “make disciples,” but where do baptizing and teaching come in?
The words for “baptizing” and “preaching” are what grammar geeks call “instrumental participles.” These words are here to tell us how something should happen. Which means that making disciples is the “what” and baptizing and teaching are the “how.”
The examples of Christian baptism in the New Testament involve someone professing belief in Jesus Christ and being immersed in water (Acts 2:38; 8:12; 10:47–48; Galatians 3:27). When someone is baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they are publicly identified with God.
If baptism is about identity, then it makes sense that this is part of the “how” in the Great Commission. A public declaration of faith and devotion to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a pretty good sign that someone has become a disciple.
9. It’s not just about conversion.
Our part in the Great Commission isn’t just about getting people to say a prayer, sign a decision card, or take a dip in the baptismal. It’s also about “teaching them to observe all that [Jesus] commanded.”
Baptism is a one-time event. Teaching takes a lifetime. In fact, just learning and understanding all the things Jesus says takes a lifetime. So when we talk about the Great Commission, we’re talking about lifelong dedication to obey the Lord and teach others to obey him, too.
This part of Jesus’ command requires a lot of patience and grace. We need to remember that the Great Commission doesn’t promise that once someone becomes a disciple, they immediately start observing everything Jesus taught. If that were the case, we wouldn’t need to teach them!
10. We don’t do this alone.
We’ve already seen that the Great Commission was given to a group of 11, not an individual. But the company in this work of making disciples becomes even richer at the end of this passage. Jesus assures his disciples that he is with them, even until the end of the age. Then the gospel of Matthew ends.
This is a powerful, assuring way to finish a book, but it gets even better when you zoom out to look at how this relates to the beginning of Matthew’s gospel. Matthew starts with the story of Jesus’ birth, which fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy that a “virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” — which means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22–23).
Now Matthew has reached the end of his story. God has walked with us, spoken with us, and lived life with us. And God will always be with us.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Communion: Common Union
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
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