Posts Tagged ‘Great Commission’

Its Not Over 6-15-14

This sermon is based on Matthew 28:16-20. This is the story of the Great Commission and I explore it from the perspective of the Holy Trinity, which was also celebrated today. You can listen to the sermon here.

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve noticed a trend that has emerged at the movie theater. As a self-professed movie buff, I have sat through a lot of movies…and for the vast majority of them, reaching all the way back to the very first movie I can ever remember watching…which was Lady and the Tramp by the way…when the picture faded out and the credits started rolling, everyone in the theater stood up, got their stuff together and started filing towards the exit.

But that’s all starting to change, particularly in terms of a certain genre of movies…the uber popular comic book movie…recently I took my son to the see the latest installment in the popular X-men franchise…and I noticed when the movie faded out and the credits started rolling…quite a few people remained in their seats…just sitting there…staring at the credit roll…and if you wondering…yes, we were doing the very same thing.

We did so, because like everyone else still sitting in the theater, we expected there to be a post-credits scene…this little bit of added story is getting more and more common anymore…particularly in franchise films, as the studios want to tease up the next installment…keeping audiences teased up at what is happening within the larger movie universe. (pause)

Now, while this tendency has really only caught on in the past few years, really catching on when Samuel L Jackson appeared post credits in the first Iron Man movie back in 2008, the actual idea has been around quite a bit longer.

The very first time I ever found a post-credits scene was the popular 80’s movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…and it was clearly intended to be a joke…following the day long antics of a high school senior that decides one last skip day is order before graduating…the credits roll…but in the off chance that you sat through them in the theater, or more likely…forgot to push stop on your vcr when it came out on video…the credits wrapped up…and suddenly, Ferris himself popped around the corner with a confused look on his face. He walks towards the camera… “You’re still here? It’s over…go home…go” and then he walks back around the corner before the screen cuts to black…because it is…truly…over at that point.

I found myself thinking about the notion of post credit scenes this week…simply because of the situation that we find in the gospel lesson…the great commission…a well-known passage…one that points to the importance of mission work and evangelism…but significant this week simply because of where it falls here in the Gospel of Matthew. (pause)

Smack dab at the end…Matthew has spent this entire time…27 chapters sharing the story of Jesus…the story that culminated in his death on the cross…and now, finally in chapter 28…he comes back…and over the course of this final chapter in Matthew’s gospel the women find the tomb empty…are instructed to tell the disciples that Jesus will meet them in Galilee…and the women aren’t told just once but twice…and then sure enough…when the disciples heed the command made by Jesus and relayed by the women…they find themselves in Galilee here…at the end of the story.

And this brief encounter between the disciples and the risen Jesus Christ…this short passage, 5 little verses, packs a heck of a wallop…and rightly so because everything that has happened up to this point…everything that’s occurred…every detail, every teaching moment, every miracle, every sermon he’s preached, every person he’s healed, every command he has given has led up to this point…and we see at this point, that Jesus is handing off the reigns to the disciples.

Jesus makes 5 distinct statements…first off…All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…and Jesus has proved that…the miraculous things that he has done in the presence of the disciples stands in proof of his divine authority…and none more prominently than the display of God’s authority over death itself, when Jesus walked out of that tomb…resurrected and alive.

And so Jesus has all authority, so we ask the question of just what he does with it…well, he sends the disciples…and this is not the first time that he’s done it…earlier in the gospel we hear that Jesus sends out the disciples two by two into the towns that he also planned to go…and now, once again…he tells them Go…and not just that, but go and make disciples of all nations…all nations…all around the world…all manner of people…because God desires to draw all people to himself.

Well, okay Jesus…so you have all authority and you want us to go make disciples…well, just how do we do that? Quite simply…baptize them. Jesus issues the command that creates the sacrament…why do we baptize? Because Jesus told us to.

But what do we do with them once we’ve baptized them Jesus? Teach them to obey all that I have commanded you…and that’s the key right there…that’s why this passage needs to fall here at the end of the story…that’s why Jesus has spent all this time…all this energy…teaching the disciples so many things…because now he is entrusting his divinely given authority to them… (pause)

Now its important to note that Jesus did not give them their own authority…he entrusted them with his…because the disciples and all believers ever since have proclaimed the same gospel…the same truth…and the same commandments that Jesus himself uttered…we are simply heralds of Christ’s own authority…but not just Christ’s…oh no…Did you catch that?

Jesus says that we are to do all of this in the name of the Father…and of the Son…and of the Holy Spirit…because all authority comes from God…and we believe that our God is the mighty three in one…One God, three persons…and so we see here that Jesus proclaims the truth of the trinity…even if he doesn’t really explain it very well, we know that it is true because he has told us. (pause)

But that’s not all that Jesus tells us…there’s one more thing too…a promise…an assurance that as the disciples go out into every nation…as they venture out to proclaim the gospel…as they go out to make disciples, baptize them, and teach Jesus’ own commandments…Jesus promises that I am with you always…even to the end of the age.

The disciples receive the promise…and so do we…that Jesus is here now and always…and I find that interesting, here at the close of Matthew’s Gospel…think about it for a moment…we find ourselves at the end of the story, and yet through this promise of Christ, we know that it is not the end….Here at the end of the story we find that the story isn’t over…it goes on…and we are a part of it, because we have received the same gospel…we have shared in the same baptism…and we have heard the same commandments…and so we know that Jesus’s words to the disciples are intended for us today as well. (pause)

We share in the same mission, just as we share in the same savior. And its reassuring to know that the faith granted to the disciples is granted by the same holy spirit that comes upon us within the baptism that we all share…and just as the disciples did when they saw the resurrected Jesus for the first time on that mountain in galilee…when they witness the fulfillment of the promise that he had made them that he would go ahead of them and meet them there…when they saw that it was true…they worshipped him…

Likewise…we gather together today, not only in the name of Jesus, but in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to do the very same…to worship our lord and savior…to worship our creator…and to worship the spirit which grants the ability to believe in the first place…and in gathering together today I believe we are gathering together with all believers around the world today…and not only that, but with all believers across time…one body with many members…connected together through the love of God expressed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And just as the scripture tells us that there was doubt within the disciples, we know that doubt enters our reality as well…but just as the disciples followed the command of Jesus in the midst of their doubts and fears and questions…we are called to do the same in the midst of our doubts and fears and questions…

Their presence does not negate the truth of the gospel…rather it pushes us to continue seeking out better understanding from the source…from the authority from Almighty God…three in one…Like the disciples we are first called and sent by the Holy Spirit to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ through the proclamation of word and the sharing the sacraments for the sake of the world which God first created and loves so much.[1]

And we must also remember Jesus words…that through all of this, he is with us, even to the end of the age…The story isn’t over…not by a long shot…but we are part of it…we share in it…

And so today…if Ferris Bueller walks around the corner with an inquisitive look on his face and says “You’re still here?” You can rely “You bet we are.” And if he tells you to go home, you can say “Home? Nah…but we are heading out there.” And if he says “It’s over,” you can tell him… “Not by a long shot…And let me tell you why…” Amen.


[1] Lose, David, Dear Working Preacher: Trinitarian Congregations,