Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (NLT)
There are times when God keeps me in the “Brussels sprouts” for a while. This week has been that. I received some information about the ministry, Voice of the Martyrs, and it spoke to my spirit and heart. I have been in the gospels reading all week.
How many times have I sat in a sermon or teaching on this passage of Scripture? BUNCH! And yet, this week, once again, God has spoke a fresh word to me. He showed me again that His words never return empty and never stale.
A disciple will have doubts. Eleven men, who had seen Jesus do miracles and speak about God as Father and with authority, had doubts. John and Mary had seen Him die a horrific Roman crucifixion and laid in a tomb. And then spent 40 days with Jesus after He rose from the dead! And still they had doubts! I have often thought, “If I had seen all of that – I wouldn’t doubt!” And then I got a light bulb of insight. Jesus, their Teacher and leader had been crucified! So what were the chances that they would have the same end if they went on and did what He had done? Probably 100%. And there is the place where doubts come in. Because Jesus is asking me to be a disciple – and means all of me, wherever He leads. Crucify my wants and my way and take up my cross. I can’t carry a cross if I am also toting all of my stuff!
A disciple is an ambassador. Paul says we are ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). God is making His appeal through us. God’s message is to be untainted. I made a decision to commit my life because of God’s words (Luke 9:26), not because of the man who delivered them. When I got home that night, it wasn’t the man I remembered but the Savior who loved me – me!
A disciple empowers others to go and be. Jesus says here to Go and make, not keep. The harvest needs workers, not pew sitters. Paul said,
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
Jesus said we disciples are here to help others grow in their relationship with Him so that all nations might come to know Him. But there is going to be persecution. There are going to be people who are determined to try and stop the spread of Jesus’ Good News. People within the church who want to keep control and things like they have always been, and people who do not believe and will do anything to wipe out those who do.
Jesus, by His example, showed me that the life of a disciple is a life of sacrifice. When there is a choice between sleeping in and getting out of bed for worship, what am I going to do? When it is buying a second home or supporting a missionary, what am I going to do? The answer to both questions is: ask God. In both examples it might seem the answer is obvious but the obvious answer is to be obedient to God! Maybe I have been out doing what God wants me to do without sleep for 24 hours. I have been worshiping Him in service so He may be telling me to rest. The second home could be a retreat for people who can’t afford hotels and vacations. God has the plan. Am I listening? Am I willing to sacrifice? And yes, am I willing to step in faith and stand in faith, even in death?
I have a friend who has just received word that her cancer is back. She has fought the good fight for years. She is seeking God’s plan for her now. She expresses that she knows that His answer might be the most difficult she has faced. He may be telling her it is time for her to come home.
And that is where I am today. I realize that while we in the Western part of our world may not have “persecution” as it was defined in the 1st century church, but we may be asked to wake up and live each day as if we only had that day. We need to understand the power in a testimony of a life lived in obedience to Jesus. Every day, “What do You want me to do today, LORD?” Live sacrificially to help others and spread the Good News, not bank my wealth or build my power. And when the day comes, sooner or later, when God says, “Come on home, My child.” I will be ready and testify one last time about Jesus, “It is finished.”
My Tribute/My Redeemer Lives written by Andre Crouch & Nicole C Mullen, sung by Nicole C Mullen