One of Jesus' final instructions to His disciples involved three key elements. Learn what they are, and how the preaching of the gospel is the most exciting story throughout all history.
[Darris McNeely] After a meal on the shore of the Sea of Galilee with Jesus and several days of coming to grips with His resurrection from the dead, the disciples were likely wondering what exactly it all meant and what were they to do. They had left their former lives and jobs and had followed Him for three and a half years around Galilee, Samaria, and Judea. Certainly, it was exciting and it was a definite change from fishing, tax collecting, and farming in their previous lives. Now, what were they to do? What did it all mean? What would the rest of their lives be like? I imagine it to be like the question from a popular movie based on the novel, "The Lord of the Rings." At one decisive point, Sam turns and says to his friend, "What kind of story have we fallen into Mr. Frodo?" Yes indeed. What kind of story had the disciples of Jesus fallen into? During my 50 plus years in the church and work of God, I've had occasion to ask the same question. Just what kind of story have I fallen into?
Being part of the work of God is exciting and frustrating, rewarding and disappointing, fulfilling and at times, leaves you wondering, "What kind of story have I fallen into?" The calling to the Kingdom of God, the work of preaching the gospel, and the joy of proclaiming God's purpose and plan for every human being who's lived is the most important, vital, and essential job one could have. It's not really a job or a career that one can just choose from a list of possible vocations. To be called and chosen by God to understand truth and to comprehend the family of God is unmatched by any other field of study or discipline in life. The calling of God and the gospel of salvation is the greatest of stories. It is the most inspiring story ever. The disciples were in that story and they were about to be thrust to the forefront of taking it to the world. They had gone from their closed room in Jerusalem to a mountain in seaside in Galilee. With mixed emotions, they had touched His wounds, heard His voice, and doubted what they saw and worshiped Him with joy. Jesus had prodded them, chided them, and taught them during this period. As the weeks went by, they had grown in confidence and faith. Their mission had been given on the very first day after His resurrection. Appearing to them while they sat at a table in their room, not knowing exactly what to do, Jesus appeared and forcefully said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
In one clear statement made by Jesus, the story can be broken down to three parts. First, they had to go, action was required. Passion for the calling would move them and Jesus as head of the church would guide them, but they still had to get up and go. Second, they went into the world to places they had never been before encountering people with languages they did not know. It would involve continuous movement forward against every obstacle and excuse they might find to not do their master's bidding. And finally, the gospel of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the Kingdom was their message. It was one message. The one true God had sent the Word to become Jesus of Nazareth and to die for the sins of mankind and be resurrected that all, including you, might have opportunity to enter into the eternal life of the God family and share in that glory. This is the essence of the message. It gave hope to a dark world then, and now. Matthew's account of this great commission is perhaps the most full expression. It says this, "And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen."
These 11 Galileans must have been staggered at such a commission. How would they who have never been outside their homeland, go into the world, and do what Jesus described? Their previous life had not prepared them for this, but their time with Jesus had laid the foundation. Still, it was a staggering task. Jesus said He had all authority given to Him. When they fully understood, He had defeated death through the resurrection, they had no reason to fear. We fear a lot of things. Death is perhaps the biggest fear to haunt any of us. Christ had risen from the dead though. And He was the first fruit of all others who died and would die. The authority granted to Christ was the vanguard of the coming first fruits of salvation, those who would be Christ at His coming. It is the promise to the disciples and the church of His continuing presence throughout the ages.
All things have been put under the feet of Christ to banish all the enemies of humanity. That is the power and the presence that would be with the disciples and is with the church today. What kind of story have we fallen into? The story of doing business until Christ comes. The business of the work, the preaching of the gospel to a world hungry for the gospel of the Kingdom of God. The church does this in advance of Christ's second coming. Jesus trained 12 to form the foundation of the church. Christ said He would be with the church, even to the end of the age, empowering and guiding the work it does. Have you ever wondered why, or if you are called now? Why would God call you to His church, reveal His plan and purpose for salvation, and give to you a part in the present work of the church? The church is the first fruits of God's plan of salvation. It's been called now in advance of all others who have not yet been called and do not understand God's eternal salvation plan through Christ. We are called now as a people to be prepared in advance of Christ's second coming.
Our job will be to reign with Christ on the earth for the 1000 year period when Christ will restore all things of the Kingdom to this earth. Christ left a charge with His disciples, a responsibility with a mission to continue the announcement of the Kingdom of God and to call the nations to repentance. The path to Pentecost for the church is the same as Christ gave to His disciples. It is the story of God preparing a people to come out of this present world and learn to worship Him in spirit and truth. We are closer to the coming of Christ than any previous generation. We are closer to the opening of the prophecies heralding the time of the end. We can see world events preparing the rise of a global system called Babylon the Great. Check yourself, the power of the risen Christ is preparing a people for a future role in the Kingdom of God. You can be a part of this work today. It's the most vital and important story of all. There was one more step for the disciples along the path to Pentecost. It would be a key understanding of the power of the Holy Spirit.