Barnabas Bulletin ~ 0153
THE CHALLENGE OF THE GREAT COMMISSION
By Rodney Francis
In Mark 16:15-20 we are given what is known as the Great Commission ~ the last words of Jesus to His disciples. A disciple is one who is committed to following both the words and example of the One we are following. For the Christian it is Jesus Christ the Lord. What He says to us should be sufficient to motivate us into doing whatever He asks of us. In this passage in Mark 16 , Jesus gave a commission that we were to be outwards-looking, seeing the needs and going, even into all the world. The Message He has given us is so important that it needs to be proclaimed throughout all the earth. If we want to be totally honest about the teachings of Jesus, it is the only Message that carries the power to change the lives of mankind ~ all other messages are inferior to the Message Jesus taught His disciples. Wherever there is a rejection of the Message of Jesus Christ society goes into a downward spiral and human needs increase drastically. Whenever the Message of Jesus is believed and applied, there is a very positive transformation that takes place within the lives of those who believe it.
The Gospel has to be proclaimed! And the only people who can truly proclaim it are those whose lives have been changed by it. We are called of God to be living witnesses of Jesus Christ alive from the dead! To us has been committed the ministry of reconciliation; reconciling men and women, boys and girls, to Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:14-21 )! When people believe the Gospel Message we proclaim, they are saved; but if they do not believe what we proclaim, they are condemned. The Lord has even told us that signs will follow those who proclaim what Jesus taught us: We will cast out demons (evil spirits) (sorry to say this but many cultures are rooted in witchcraft and are blocking people coming from the truth of Jesus that sets them free). We will speak with new tongues. Tongues are the language of the Holy Spirit to enable us to build ourselves up in faith. They enable us to speak to God spirit to Spirit and that inspires us to do greater things in the name of the Lord (Jude 20-25 ). Jesus told us we would take up serpents and be unharmed by poisonous things; helping us to be aware that there are often deadly opposition “out there” that wants to close us down and even destroy us. Remember the Bible declares: “Greater is He (Jesus) Who is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 ). The last part of the Great Commission is that we will lay hands on the sick and they shall recover! These signs are evidence of the power of God working in and through the believer in Jesus Christ! Sadly, we seem to have gotten away from so much of what Jesus taught us. What should we do, then? Quite simply: get back to what Jesus taught and let us believe and obey Him more than all the negative teachings, excuses, reasonings, etc., and see what God will do through us. What a tremendous thing it is to pray for someone who is crippled and then to see them walk in a few minutes! Those watching are very impacted by a demonstration of the power of God. It helps people to believe the Message of Jesus!
HOW DID JESUS’ DISCIPLES RESPOND?
Immediately prior to Jesus giving His eleven disciples the Great Commission they were in a place of “unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe” the resurrection of Jesus (Mark 16:14 ). Jesus had to rebuke them. After more than three years of His teaching them, it seemed they were still “as thick as a brick” (the Message had not got through to them). However, Jesus believed in them ~ and what the Holy Spirit could do in and through them enough ~ that He still gave them the Great Commission. So, after being rebuked and commissioned, what did they do? Go home and sulk? Did they feel they were unworthy and not called because they had obviously disappointed their Master? No! “They went out and preached everywhere!” “They went out!” Notice that they had to make the first move here. They had to show Jesus by their actions that they believed what He had commissioned them to do. They responded positively and went out. Then the Bible says the Lord went with them! ~ “The Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.” Did you notice that? They did not go with God; God went with them. God responded to their acts of obedience and confirmed their obedience and words by signs and wonders. Hallelujah!
To see and read more of what those disciples did, read the Book of Acts. After the Holy Spirit and tongues came into their lives they were endued with a power from on High that they had never experienced before. The Holy Spirit made Jesus and His teachings so much the more real and alive to them. They were changed people for the better. Their previous negative attitudes had been changed into positive possibilities with the Name and Message of Jesus.
IS THE GREAT COMMISSION NO LONGER RELEVANT?
So, how is it with you and me today? Are we concerned enough to commit ourselves to the fulfilling of the Great Commission Jesus gave us? What are we personally doing to get the Gospel Message out to the nations of the earth? If we cannot go in person, we can at least pray for those who do go, and we can give whatever we can to make it all happen in reality. The Great Commission gets us outward-looking more than anything else. It will challenge us as long as we are here on this earth. For me, I certainly do not want to stand before the Lord empty-handed, with nothing to show for all the years I have been a professing Christian. I long to see more lives transformed by the word and power of God; I long to see more signs, wonders and miracles that glorify Jesus Christ ~ therefore I have to be involved in those things that will cause that to happen. I have to mix with those kind of positive believing people who will stir my faith to greater things. The Great Commission can be fulfilled ~ it only takes every born-again, Holy Spirit-filled person to believe and obey what Jesus commanded us. What is your next step from here? God Bless you. ~ Rodney W. Francis.
Prayer: “Dear Lord, I come to You in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son, and I ask You to help me to break free from everything that causes me to disobey Your voice, and to disobey the Great Commission. Help me to put aside every excuse I have been hiding behind, so that I will be quick to obey You, and that I might have the joy of winning more lost souls and bringing forth much more fruit ~ of being a true witness of Your Teachings. Help me to be a more positive believer in what You have spoken. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”