Go to every nation and make the people my disciples
By Rev. Robert Ramphal, Oster First Covenant Church, Waverly
We read in the gospel of Matthew chapter 28, verses 16 - 20, Jesus' 11 disciples went to a mountain in Galilee, where Jesus had told them to meet him.
They saw him and worshipped him, but some of them doubted.
Jesus came to them and said, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples.
"Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world."
There were five things Jesus was saying here in his closing remarks to the disciples before his ascension.
His words were in the imperative, and we need to understand and obey the things he was commanding for his kingdom if we are going to be his disciples.
Firstly, he said he has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. He did not say some authority, but all authority. He also did not say all authority only in heaven, but all authority both in heaven and on earth.
By prefacing himself with this statement, he wants us to know that when we act on his behalf, we are acting by the authority given to him by God so that when we are challenged by the world or those who do not believe, we can safely say God has sent us and give us a message to proclaim.
Anyone who carries out this mission is his disciple.
Secondly, he said that we should go to the people of all nations and make them his disciples.
His command is very explicit. When we become his disciples we are commanded to witness to people everywhere.
We must go to the nations of the world to witness Christ in spite of all the oppositions we face where many nations do not want Christians to tell them about Jesus in their homeland.
We are asked to do this at great risk, but we have to obey because we trust that God knows what he is doing. The difficulty of this task becomes challenging because of hostility of other nations and religions, and because it requires us to give up the comfort and safety of where we live.
Thirdly, baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit This very act of baptism, a sacred event in the lives of Christians, testifies to whom we belong. It is not enough to know Jesus and to receive God's forgiveness.
We must symbolize to the world through this sacred sacrament that this washing and cleansing is quite different from what the world does. We are renewed spiritually and are empowered by his grace in this act of submission of dying and rising again as a new person.
Fourthly, teach them everything I have told you.
In order to become God's disciples and to do God's work effectively, we all have to be taught again. You may be an educated person or a person who had no such opportunity, but all his followers have to be taught again a new way to live, love, and obey.
The old way of doing things have not worked and that was why Jesus had to come to change our way of thinking and behaving, and to create a better relationship with God and our fellowman.
We lacked guidance and instruction for living life in all its filllness. We must also note that we are required to teach everything he has told us, not just some things.
God wants us to have a complete education. This knowledge that is spoken of here is a knowledge that acts out God in us. It is not merely cerebral. It demonstrates love, kindness, and concern for each other and does not stand aloof.
Lastly, he says I will be with you always, even until the end of the world. This is the great assurance we have from Jesus. It is very nice to know that we are not alone in the world when we do our mission for him.
When we speak to people or before crowds, or when we find ourselves in danger or in want, he is there. It is nice to be accompanied by Jesus wherever we go. We can only fully comprehend and appreciate his presence as we venture out for him.
We will never be alone or abandoned by him. He will accompany us as far as we can go, and even more. There is no place unreachable for God when he says even until the end of the world.
We have and must believe that God will do all this because he gave his word and promise. If you do these things that Jesus has commanded, you will be fulfilling the mission of God, and you will be blessed by God.
You also will find fillfillment in your life as you witness God's salvation and love to others.
As Christians, we have a mission. God wants us to witness Jesus wherever we are. It may be in a nursing home, in school, in the workplace or in the community. There is no exception to this call.
Go, preach, teach, and tell others of this wonderful savior we have.
God bless you.