To Teach the Ways of Jesus
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
Sometime after his resurrection, Jesus met his eleven remaining disciples in Galilee to give them their marching orders. The disciples were still traumatized and confused by the past days’ events, but they all showed up. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but not all believed at first. That would take time. He came closer and spoke to them: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Jesus prefaced his command, what we know as The Great Commission, with the assurance that he had the authority to make it. Without that authority, we might question whether evangelism is appropriate. After all, there are many belief systems. Who is to say which one is the best? Once we accept that God, the I AM, is the one true God, and that Jesus is the Messiah, and that the Holy Spirit is the Presence of God now dwelling in all who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, we must also accept that the Great Commission is our mission. Our marching orders in three parts. We are to go, to make disciples, and to teach the ways of Jesus.
For some of us, this sounds impossible. We might be very familiar with part one—to go—because we feel as if we’re always going. We’re busy. We go to work, to school, to church, to sports or music practice. We go all the time, so when are we supposed to go for the purpose of sharing the Gospel? It’s true, some people will be called to full-time ministry or missions; however, most of us are called not to go to Africa or some other far-flung mission field but simply to go to our family, our neighbors, our coworkers. We can do that.
Making disciples, though? This is where it gets a little stickier. Even if we wholeheartedly believe the Gospel for ourselves, what right do we have to foist it on other people? Remember, Jesus has the authority to send us out. Making disciples simply requires sharing the greatest good news that has ever been: we are no longer bound to sin and death, and the same can be true for everyone! At the very least, we can invite people to church, where they can hear the message from a minister of the Word. If their hearts and minds are open, if Jesus is already calling them to himself, they will hear the Word and respond. They will want to be baptized. They will be hungry for more.
They will want to follow Jesus. They will be eager to learn the disciplines and to obey the commandments of Jesus: to love God with all their hearts, minds, and strength, and to love their neighbors as they love themselves. They will want to go and share the Gospel because it saved them and changed their lives. And so it continues, each one going, sharing, teaching until the whole world has heard the good news: that everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved.
The apostle Paul wrote, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” Unless we obey our commission, the world will continue to sink into darkness and chaos. Unless we teach the ways of Jesus, people will continue to go their own way, to their destruction. This is not God’s plan. God has shown us the path to abundant and eternal life and given us the responsibility and the privilege to show that path to others so that the whole world can know him and be saved. That’s news worth sharing!
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship (nursery care and Children’s Worship available), followed by Discovery Hour for ages preschool through high school.