Last words are powerful! The last recorded words of Jesus found in Matthew, Mark and Acts, he sends out his disciples to tell the story of salvation.
A. Many of us have read about famous people and their last words. Sometimes they sound funny to us, sometimes, they help us see how the person saw their life. But last words have power to the hearer. Some lives have changed because of the last words they heard from someone they loved.
B. The last words on of one of the thieves on the cross was to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The last words of Stephen as he was being stoned was, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” The last word in the Bible is “Amen.”
C. It was not the last words of Jesus, but some of the last recorded by the writers of the story of Jesus is the theme of what I want look at for a few weeks.
D. I want you to listen to the ending of the Gospels and hear the connection. Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:45-48.
E. The connection is not difficult; the last push from Jesus to his disciples was to go and tell the story of salvation. Each writer used different words or centered on a different time at the end of the ministry of Jesus, but each of them leave the idea that Jesus was sending them into the world for the purpose of sharing the greatest truth ever told. For just a few minutes today, I want sit with that truth.
I. Go Tell Everyone
A. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record Jesus telling the disciple to go, go not just to the land of Israel, not just to the Jewish people, but go into all the world. The word “go” is a command in these verses. It is a command directed to those original disciples, but it was written down by others because “go” is a command given as much to me as it was to them. The calling is for me to see the urgency of the message, and let that urgency drive me to open my mouth in love.
B. “Go and tell” when said by Jesus is all inclusive. When a demon possessed man is curried by Jesus, he wants to leave follow Jesus, but Jesus told him to go home and tell everyone what was done for him. Sometimes, the most difficult people to “go to” is the ones we are close to.
C. I content how we speak is just as important as what we speak. When I am openly offensive and use the Bible to condemn more than that share the story of salvation, I won’t be heard well by anyone. But sharing the story of Jesus with those whom I love or have a good relationship with is difficult, but it almost seems like I am being by saying, “I am saved and you are not.” So how can I go and tell without sounding condescending?
D. I have found, it is better to share what Jesus has done in my life, and let the hearer determine their own life. Paul used this approach many times, in fact on 3 occasions, spoke of how he was the worst sinner in the world. Sharing your story of salvation by Jesus has depth that makes scripture come to life in a profound way.
II. Go Make Disciples
A. When Matthew wrote the final words of his story of Jesus, he closes, not with the ascension of Jesus, but with the commission of Jesus. In that great commission, we hear Jesus say, “to make disciples of all nations.”
B. I think it is important to start here. We live in an area where there are many Christian denominations. We live at a time when the name Jesus is well known, but not well followed. We often live thinking that our job is to convince someone of their theological failure and my theological correctness. I want you to hear me, there are theological failures in the Christian world that need correcting.
C. But I wonder if we miss the idea of making disciples. And let me be clear, I cannot make a disciple of Jesus without first being a disciple of Jesus. Do you understand me? Forget, for a moment, about the name of this congregation and ask yourself, what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Look at this slide from a conference.
III. Connect With Christ
A. Being a disciple is a one who follows Jesus in every aspect possible. Jesus becomes the center of your life, the way you make decisions, the way you view your finances, the way you view people; Jesus lives in his disciples. That type of connection happens as the relationship deepens.
B. In the passages we read in Matthew, Mark and Luke, we see Jesus teaching that the beginning of a disciple is the death of self. Baptism is a burial. One of the most memorable moments I have listening to Jerry Tallman was when he talked about baptism and said, “You don’t bury living people.” Jesus connects baptism and the gospel many times. Why does a disciple teach baptism? Because baptism is the time when I proclaim that I am no longer master over me. I die to self, I am buried with Christ, and I am raised in the power of the Holy Spirit. I am no longer simply me, I am a child of living God who loved me and died for me. I am saved by his grace, sanctified in the blood and walk in newness of life. I am born again, born from above, born to live a different life than the one I had been living.
C. A disciple is so connected to Jesus that as a branch cannot bear fruit unless it’s connected to the vine, the disciple abides in Jesus for all of their nourishment. The disciple wants to keep learning from the master. Jesus taught his disciple to teach everything that he “commanded.” Yes, there are commands. Yes there are rights and wrongs. I seek to live by the commands of my master – I fail, but my master lifts me up and, in my repentance, I keep turning to him.
A. It’s a calling to go and tell your story. Tell what Jesus has done for you. Let the world see a new you, one that looks, talks, acts like Jesus. It’s time to be the sent ones Jesus called us to be and to take His message of love to the world.
B. If you are here today and have not died to self, been immersed, buried with Jesus and come to life as his disciples, then the time to do that is now. If you are a disciple then it’s time to live like one. “I am resolved no longer to linger.”
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister