Welcome to our live streamed service today!
Today Pastor Mick leads us in a new series of talks, following on from our Easter theme.
The Bible reading is from Matthew 28:16-20.
The service starts with a 15 minute countdown, where we share some news and announcements. Please use the scroll bar to skip straight through to the service/message if watching the recording.
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Following the conclusion of our series, ‘encounters on the road to the cross,’ leading up to Easter we are continuing on the narrative because here is some good news: the story does not end on the cross! Aren’t we grateful for that? The death of our God and saviour was not the end. In many was it was only the beginning. Or perhaps it ushered in a new beginning. That’s what we celebrate in the resurrection. That a new day has dawned on the earth and as a result we too can step from darkness into light, from death into life! (Dr. Samuel Hildebrandt did a great job preaching this very message last week!) And so our new preaching series is a little bit of a sequel to the last one. Following the cross we are now looking at encounters with the resurrected Christ and asking ourselves the question: What does it mean for me that Jesus has risen from the grave? In today’s reading we have Matthew’s answer to that question.
A pastor of mine once told me that there are two ways to read the Bible: deep and wide. To read the Bible widely is to read vast sections at a time which allows for us to see the grand narratives of the Scriptures. Only when standing back and understanding the long story arc of the Bible can we fully appreciate God’s unrelenting pursuit of humanity driven by his unchanging love for them. That’s what it means to read the Bible widely. But we should also read the Bible deeply, taking shorter passages and refusing to rush through them, mulling over the meaning of each and every word as through God is speaking them directly to us. That’s deep reading. Today’s passage is short and so allows for us to read it deeply over the next few moments.
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. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
It’s interesting that this resurrection encounter occurs in Galilee; perhaps resurrection involves some kind of movement or, action, if you like. But the more significant detail about where this occurs was the fact that it took place on a mountain. Mountains are significant in the Gospel of Matthew. It was on a mountain that Jesus delivered his famous sermon (Matt 5-7). It was also on a mountain that he was transformed in glory (Matt 17:1-8). But the most significant parallel here is that it was also on a mountain where Jesus was offered all the Kingdoms of the world if he would bow down to him at the very beginning of his ministry. And despite the fact that Jesus refused this offer here he stands at the end of the Gospel with all authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus is vindicated in his ways of peace, love and sacrifice and the devil is proven to be what he is – a liar! Never underestimate the power of the devil’s lies. In fact, there is a warning in this passage about just how destructive those lies are in the third word of this passage – eleven. This is the first time the disciples are called such as a reminder of the betrayal and death of Judas Iscariot.
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.”
And so Jesus has won! He has defeated sin and death and made a way for us to enter into that same resurrected life. So what? Well, here’s what: go and make disciples. Go and replicate what I did for you! Now, I don’t know what your understanding of discipleship is but mine comes from the description given Mark chapter 3: “14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him.” In many ways it’s as simple as that. The best way to make disciples is to gather with others (be with them) and live out your resurrected life! Yes it speaks about teaching and baptizing but the most effective way we can communicate our faith is by living it out the presence of other people! In fact, I reckon that makes the teaching part easier as people will ask curious questions about Christ alive in us. That’s effective discipleship!
And baptism is so important also. I am so looking forward to the day we baptise people in this pool again. Baptism is the symbolic act that points the reality of rebirth, new life and resurrection in Christ Jesus. But here’s what I want us to see here. Baptism happens within the context of community (discipleship, being together), and we are baptised in the name of God who is in and of himself a community (Father, Son and Spirit). I think if you are reading this sermon you might want to take a moment to *try and get your head around that and wonder why that is so implicit.
But it’s the way this passage ends that I find so stunningly beautiful. The Gospel began with Emmanuel – God is with us – and here ends with a promise: I am with you! Although we can fully take this on board when we are needing comfort, healing, encouragement etc. The context of God’s promise of his presence is explicitly when we are sharing the faith: discipling, teaching, baptising. And again, before you make the mistake of excluding yourself as someone who doesn’t preach or teach remember that discipleship is simply you living out your resurrected life in the presence of others. If we do this, God will never leave us!