Pastor Nelson Bonilla: 6-4-23 “The Great Commission”

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Matthew 28:16-20

Today is Trinity Sunday and the First Sunday after Pentecost and during the season of Pentecost we decorate our churches with green. Green represents hope. Green also represents growing, multiplication from a single seed to a great harvest. That is why today we read about the Great Commission.

In today’s Gospel, the risen Christ is placing on the shoulders of His disciples the responsibility to continue with His ministry. The ministry to make disciples; Jesus is asking them to continue baptizing people from all nations and teaching them to obey everything he taught.

In today’s narrative, we find the disciples where Jesus had told them to go. They went back home; they went to Galilee, to the mountaintop. From there, Jesus instructs them to go out into the whole world to make disciples, and to do it Jesus sent them full of his authority. Those disciples were sent to be the leaven to enliven the whole world. But what was it Jesus sent them out to do? What was the reason for their going out into the world? They were sent to teach “them to obey everything that he has commanded them” (v. 20). What was “that everything” that Matthew is talking about? What Jesus commanded them to do and teach can be all summed with, “Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ And your neighbor as yourself'” (Matt. 22:37-39; see Deut. 6:5). Yes, he also sent them to make disciples and to baptize. However, we cannot make disciples and baptize them without teaching them first, and to teach, we must learn first.

What do we have to learn and then teach? First, we must learn to love God and our neighbor; How can we love God? John 14:15 says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” One of the commandments Jesus specifically gave his disciples to keep was to have mercy. In Luke 10:36-37 we find a very known and loved parable, The Good Samaritan, At the end of the parable Jesus asked the expert in the law, Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” The same commandment, the same request is extended to us today, “have mercy.” What is to have mercy for our neighbor? According to the parable we have mercy when we feel the pain of those who suffer even if we do not know them; we have mercy when we supply for their needs even if they will continue with their journey and we will not see them again. Practicing mercy is how the first Christians passed the message of Jesus. They did not have the New Testament as we do. Whenever we want to evangelize, we quote the Bible. We quote Jesus or Paul or any other writer of the Bible. They could not do that; the New Testament was being written by then; they used actions. They lead people to Jesus by example. By practicing mercy and by living God’s kingdom. In God’s Kingdom everyone is the same, slaves and masters, women and men, children, and adults. Could you imagine the impact of that message? Most of the masters did not have mercy for their slaves. Most men did have mercy for their women. However, those who follow Christ made the difference, they were merciful.     

What else we must learn from Jesus, practice, and teach, to be humble. John 13:14 says, 14 “Now that I, your Lord, and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” I know that in our time hygiene is very important and washing each other’s feet is something we hesitate to do. Washing the feet was a slave’s duty. Jesus’ message behind the washing of the feet is very well expressed by Paul in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Jesus’ commandment and Paul advice to the Philippians is counter cultural today. Our society demands for us to be number one. We live in a society that looks down on those who are not like us.

In verse 20 Jesus says, “And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” If we love God and our neighbor and we practice that love; God will be with us always, because God is love. 1 John 4:20 has an interesting verse, it says, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” If I do not practice mercy with my neighbor and claim to love God, I am a liar.  

 If we are humble, and value others above, ourselves, God will be with us always because Psalm 138:6 says, this is the New Living Translation, “Though the LORD is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud.” Somewhere I read that “Being humble does not mean thinking less of yourself. Instead, it means thinking of yourself less.” Jesus is the example of how humble we must be. Philippians 2:8, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

We all know the story of Daniel in the Lion’s den; we all know the story of Daniel’s friends in the furnace. Do you know why God was with them? Because they loved God and obeyed his commandments. Because they were humble to the point of death just to testified of their God.

When Jesus sent his disciples with his message, he did not give them a book, he gave them his example and his authority, and they went out to live and practice this message.

What do I have to learn to teach others about Jesus’ love?  

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