The Mission Continues

Sermon Summary

This message is the last in our “Christmas: God’s Mission Trip” series. We’ve seen how God planned His mission trip down to the very last detail! The coming of the Messiah was prophesied hundreds of years before Jesus ever lived. When Jesus did come to this earth on a mission from God to seek and to save that which was lost, the enemies of God tried every thing within their power to prevent the mission from succeeding. This made the mission trip of God a very dangerous one indeed. The mission trip did end up being a deadly mission, but the beauty of it is that the mission of God did not end at the cross! The fact is that Jesus defeated death and the grave on the cross and then rose from the grave in great victory. Shortly after His resurrection Jesus gave the disciples what has become known as the “great commission”.  The mission to seek and to save the lost of this world was given to His disciples just before He ascended back to heaven.  If a person considers themselves to be a disciple of Christ then they have a God-given call to continue the mission of Jesus Christ!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Most people think of missionaries as a special group of people who are called to go to other countries to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The truth is that every follower of Christ is called by God to be on mission to share the “good news” of Jesus with a lost and dying world. Does it scare you, thrill you, or both when you think of being an actual missionary for Christ? Explain.

2. Jesus finished His part of God’s mission trip when He became the perfect sacrifice and paid a debt He didn’t owe on the cross. The cross was not the end of the mission, but it was the bridge, the catalyst, the instrument, and the means by which God’s mission of salvation could be accomplished in a person’s life. What does a person have to do in order to allow God’s mission to become a reality in their personal life?
Rom 3:20  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
Rom 3:21  But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
Rom 3:22  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
Rom 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:24  and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

3. Just as there were enemies to God’s mission when Jesus was physically on this earth, there are still enemies of God’s mission today. However, sometimes the greatest enemy of God’s mission in a person’s life may be the person himself. Some refuse to believe no matter what they see. In other words, seeing does not guarantee belief, but when a person believes God allows them to see! Explain your thoughts on this phenomenon.

1 Pet 1:8  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
1 Pet 1:9  for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Pet 1:10  Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,
1 Pet 1:11  trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
1 Pet 1:12  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

4. 1 Peter 1:12 states that the prophets who spoke of the coming of the Messiah were actually doing so for the benefit of those who would someday hear the gospel preached. They were a part of God’s mission plan. Jesus told His disciples and us that we were to continue His mission. Discuss your thoughts on the “Great Commission” Jesus gave to us.

Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them  
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Full Sermon Notes

My heart will say how great is our God!
I hope this Christmas has been Christ filled for you and your family. Many years ago on that first Christmas, God sent His One and Only Son on a mission trip. He had carefully planned that trip from the very beginning of time! He completed His portion of God’s mission by providing a way for you and me to be made right with God on the Cross! But the Cross was not the end of God’s mission! Let’s pray and then we’ll look at how God’s mission continued even after Jesus ascended back to heaven.

Dear Lord Jesus, You are so precious to me and I want to thank You for coming on Your mission trip many years ago. I know You did that for me and I could never pay You back for the amazing gift You have given me. Forgiveness, hope, peace, eternal life and friendship with Almighty God! How can I say thanks? Maybe the best way for me to show my gratitude is by partnering with You in Your continuing mission to reach the lost souls of this world! Maybe the best way any of us could say thanks is by living lives on mission, just like You when You were here. I pray You will help us discover today how we can be Your missionaries on planet earth! Speak through me this morning as I share Your Word of truth with all who will listen. In Jesus Name I pray and believe! Amen!

Take your Bibles and turn with me to Matthew 28. Last week we ended with the death of Jesus on the Cross and how His sacrifice made our salvation possible. Salvation from hopelessness, from guilt, from emptiness, from despair, and from eternal separation from God! But Jesus didn’t stay in the grave.
Both Jesus and His mission were still very much alive! You’ll hear a message on these verses in a few months around Easter, but they serve as the transition to our message on the continuing mission of Christ this morning! Let’s read together Matthew 28:1 and following…

The Cross was not the end of the Mission!

Mat 28:1  After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
Mat 28:2  There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.

The fact the angel was sitting on top of the stone signified that God was in control of the situation and very much on top of things! And now I want you to pay attention to the timeline of of events. It's amazing. The two Mary’s had gone to the tomb, then the earthquake happens and the stone is rolled away. Let’s read on…

Mat 28:3  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
Mat 28:4  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
Mat 28:5  The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
Mat 28:6  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
Mat 28:7  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."

The angel invites them to look at the place here Jesus had been. But He was not there. He was already gone. He tells them they will see Him later! What does all this mean? The stone was not rolled away so Jesus could get out, but so the women could get in! Jesus had already risen. The stone was not an obstacle for God, but for man!

Mat 28:8  So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
Mat 28:9  Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.
Mat 28:10  Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

These women were told not to be afraid first by the angel and then again by Jesus! They were then given the privilege to be the first to share the good news of Jesus’ resurrection! They are told by the angel to "come and see the place where He lay, and to go quickly to tell the disciples and then  Jesus repeats their mission to go and tell!
And they do just that!
Now let me ask you a question. Does this remind you of anything from the first Christmas?  This is pretty cool...

Luke 2:8-20
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone  
around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had  
heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

An angel telling the shepherds to not be afraid! An angel bringing good news of great joy that will be for all people! And what did they do? They did what they were told to do and after seeing the Christ Child they began telling the story and all who heard it were amazed! It says the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God. Returned? They returned to their sheep, their jobs, their families, their lives, but their lives had been forever changed and they weren't afraid to tell their story. You will see in a few minutes how this relates to the continuation of God's mission trip. Ok, back to our text.

The women who had seen the angel and had been given an assignment to go and tell the disciples "He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee." The area of Galilee was where Jesus had done most of His ministry! The next part of our passage is so important to understanding the continuing mission of God...

The Mission has its enemies!

Sadly, some will never accept the truth of the mission of God and even become enemies of the mission. No amount of proof will convince them of God's love for them, or of the mission trip He took to save them.

Matthew 28:11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.
12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money,
13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’
14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”
15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

All I can say is wow!! Those guards had seen amazing things! A violent earthquake, an angel of The Lord coming down from heaven and rolling away the stone and sitting on top of it. The angel's appearance was like lightning, and his clothes white as snow and the guards shook and became like dead men, but they trade the miracle of what they had seen for a bribe to not just keep their mouths shut about what they had seen, but to actually lie about it! They made their decision and chose the things of this world that won't last as apposed to the good news of a risen Savior who could bring real meaning to their lives in this world and the blessed hope of eternal life! Now I'm not saying it's always easy to believe! Even believers have their doubts. It's human to question, to ask questions, to wonder about things we don't understand or can't explain. I've said it before, God gave us a brain and He doesn't get mad at us when we use it. Don't let questions or doubt paralyze you! The enemy of God's mission, Satan, is still in the business of spreading lies. He will tell you if you have doubts or questions then your faith, trust, and belief are null and void! That's a lie! Some of Jesus' disciples had doubts and questions even after seeing Him alive. Listen to the next two verses in our text…

Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

Satan would have you think if you have questions or doubts that you're some kind of hypocrite for coming to church and especially if you sing the worship songs. I had a friend years ago who wouldn't sing the songs. He would just sit there and read his Bible hoping to find all the answers to all of his questions before he would worship! Some of the disciples, when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted. Listen to what Luke said about the disciples reaction to the women who brought the good news of the resurrection to them...

Luke 24:9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.
10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.
12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

The cross was not the end, but the disciples didn't believe the women and thought their words were nonsense! Saint Peter had to see for himself and ran to the tomb. It was empty, but he went away wondering what had happened. And remember Thomas saying "Unless I see the nail prints and the wound in His side!"

Dr. Frank Stagg said it beautifully in his Broadman commentary on Matthew's gospel. Listen...

“The appearances of Jesus had evidential value and are a part of the early Christian witness,but physical sight alone did not compel faith. Some doubted even though they saw him. The high priests misunderstood faith when they demanded Jesus' descent from the cross, saying 'that we may see and believe.' Seeing may contribute to believing, but the deeper New Testament view is that if one will believe he will see.
Jesus declared the greater blessing to be upon 'those who have not seen and yet believe."

Now why am I spending so much time on this? Because God's continuing mission depends on you and me and if we let doubts and questions paralyze us then we prevent the mission of God from moving forward. And sometimes it may not be your doubts and questions that paralyze you, but those of others!
Have you ever thought about how Mary Magdalene and the other women must have felt when the disciples discounted their good news as nonsense? It had to be hard. It's not an easy thing when you share the excitement of what Jesus has done in your life with others and they discount it as nonsense.

You see, for me believing is seeing. It was after I decided to place my faith in God and His precious Word that I began to see. It's so hard when I meet people who won't give Jesus serious consideration. Now you might say, "But if it's God's mission, why should it bother you so much?" Here's the reason. The last three verses of our text...

The Mission continues in you and me!

Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Jesus was God on Mission to our world! He was the Word made flesh! He had said over and over that He and The Father were one. People who heard Him speak were amazed that He spoke as one who had great authority! So Jesus now stands on that authority as He is about to transfer God's mission to His followers!

Based on this authority He then says...

Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them  
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The word "therefore," means "because." Because I have authority I give you this charge, this instruction, this responsibility, this privilege, this mission! He then says "go and make disciples of all nations!" In the Greek language, this is a participial phrase which literally means, "as you go," or "as you are going!"
Why does this matter? Remember how the shepherds returned to their shepherding, and as they did they told everyone about what they had seen? The mission of God is to be a part of our daily life. It is to be a lifestyle. It is not something we do when we go on a church mission trip. It is something we live every day. We live on mission! So the first verb is not go, but make. As you are going, make disciples! That's the mission of God continued. Jesus had twelve original disciples, but other disciples soon followed, and those disciples made disciples and those disciples made other disciples and so on and so on all the way down to 1974 when I heard the good news and was discipled! All the way down to whatever year you believed and then were discipled. What is a disciple? A disciple is not just a believer in Jesus, but is a person who is a fully committed follower of Christ and who realizes they have been called by God to continue His mission to seek and to save those who are lost!

And how do we accomplish this? Well, for starters, when a person makes a decision to believe, trust, and put their faith in Christ we help them to paint a picture of that new way of life through baptism. Baptism symbolizes the sacrifice Jesus made to bring to us God's forgiveness, cleansing, power, love, and eternal hope! We then begin teaching the principles and spiritual truths Jesus taught! I was telling someone just this week that if we could get people to just live by the red letters of the Bible the world would become a significantly better place! In many translations the words Jesus spoke are written in red.
That may sound like noble mission, but is it really practical or possible. I mean can anyone really live a lifestyle on mission for God? Especially when so many reject Jesus as the Messiah and some are even hostile to the gospel. Of course some just think it's nonsense. How do we deal with that? And there are others who are respectful, but have decided they just can't believe Jesus is the way, the truth and the life! Not all non-Christians are mean, hate-filled people. I've met some really nice atheist! But I'll tell them, in a Christ loving way, I believe their life could be so much more if they would just give Jesus a chance.

Let me just point you to some red letters...

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.
33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.
34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full.
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

If more Christians lived these verses as they were going about their daily lives, there would be more Christians. Because people would be drawn to the Jesus they could see living in the Christ follower. In fact, the last thing Jesus said to His disciples in our text was...

Matthew 28:20 “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

No one could live the red letters of Scripture if it weren't for the red letters of this verse. You see no man has the strength on his own to live a completely selfless life. But here's an amazing thing you may not know about this verse. The phrase "I am with you" is almost exactly like the word "Immanuel" which means "God with us!"

Matthew 1:23  “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”  —which means, “God with us."

One last, but very important observation. Does anyone know what Matthew chapter 28:20 is called by theologians? The Great Commission! The definition of commission is “an instruction, command, or duty given to a person or group of people.” 

Jesus let His disciples and us know that God’s commission was to continue through us, and then He confirmed that it was a commission when He promised to be with us as we live our lives on mission taking the good news of God’s salvation to a lost and dying world!

Let’s pray!