Jesus is risen, that was the hard part, now we're on mission, that's not so easy either! Join me for a mighty challenge from our resurrected Lord.
Please read Matthew 28:16-20 before starting GraspingGod.com's free Bible study lessons, #3.17.
Previous lesson: Jesus' Empty Tomb #3.16.
Preliminary Bible Study Questions:
1) What was Jesus' great claim?
2) What was Jesus' great command?
3) What was Jesus' great comfort?
Jesus is risen and he made himself known many times. For starters, let's recount the appearances the risen Christ made after his resurrection.
We'll then study his Great Commission given to his disciples on the mountain in Galilee. Let's get started.
Here is a list of appearances by the risen Christ:
Jesus is risen indeed, and these appearances proved his resurrection to a great many people, although some still doubted! This goes to show that certain people, even when Jesus walks up to them, still deny him. It's hard to imagine, but true.
Because Jesus is risen, we have a commission, a Great Commission.
You'll hear the word "great" often in this lesson, because, quite frankly, the resurrection of Jesus was a great feat by God.
Not only did God raise his Son from the dead, but because of that particular resurrection there will be millions upon millions who rise from the grave. So, the resurrection was great in both power and scope.
Jesus is risen, he is the first, and, thankfully not the last!
I've pinpointed three "greats" from our focus passage, breaking down Christ's last words recorded in the gospel of Matthew. The group of eleven disciples were waiting for him on a mountain near Galilee when he approached them.
Jesus told the disciples, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth." God gave his resurrected Son, Jesus Christ all authority over heaven and earth. This is a tremendous claim and begging for discussion.
Let's start with this passage from Paul, "And God's incomparable great power is for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." (Ephesians 1:19-23 NIV).
Jesus is risen and in complete control of the universe after ascending to heaven from the Mount of Olives.
Jesus conquered Satan and the evil powers in all of its forms by withstanding all temptations. Jesus never sinned.
He was then sacrificed for all those who would believe in God through him. His death paid the cost for those who turn to God. God then raised Jesus from the dead, finally defeating the last enemy, which is human eternal death.Jesus is victorious over everyone and everything imaginable, forever and ever. He sits on an eternal throne, pre-eminent over all things. Jesus, the King, reigns supreme!
Jesus is risen, therefore, we have a new mission in life. Anyone wanting to come under God's forgiving power must humbly approach Jesus Christ, the King. The person's repentance and faith leads to his or her salvation. A time of personal discipleship will then lead to the King's great commission, which we will learn about now.
Because of Jesus' reign over the universe and complete power over the church, his followers are to, "Go, and make disciples."
It's a kingdom building command issued by King Jesus himself to those who follow him. His disciples are to enlarge the kingdom by seeking souls who wish to become fellow disciples of Christ. Jesus wants the best for people and he knows that being forgiven by God is the absolute BEST for everyone.
Plain and simple, Jesus Christ desires real disciples who dedicate their lives to follow him.
The following is extracted from the definition of the Greek word mathetes, which is normally translated "disciple." A definition of disciple is: a learner, one who learns from a teacher; devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests; those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men.
A disciple is someone who is being instructed and trained and fully devoted to the teachings of another.
In the context of Matthew chapter 28, Christians are to seek people who desire God and wish to become disciples of Jesus Christ. Occasionally, a person is found who desires to follow him. After celebrating the remarkable moment, the new disciple must begin his journey.
Once a person is baptized and commits to following Jesus Christ, he
should come under a Christian teacher. Let's look at what God taught
about discipleship through Isaiah 8:11-22.
The Scripture tells disciples to stop thinking like other people (v.11). We are to change our thinking, i.e. repent. We change our thinking (aka repenting) by listening to God's word and applying it to our life (Matthew 5:17-20).
The Bible must be carefully taught to new disciples. The new disciple learns the Bible through reading and study.
This new spiritual knowledge is forcing worldly thinking from the mind. We allow God to wash our minds, so we think differently than before.
We become a new person with fresh thoughts and a new attitude (Romans 12:1-2).
With the new worldview and attitude comes new habits, self-discipline, and good works that serve God and people.
A disciple is someone who experiences a new beginning. The old has passed by and the new has begun. A person desiring to become Jesus' disciple stops in his tracks, makes an about-face, and follows Jesus Christ and his word (Romans 6:12-13).
Isaiah next tells us to make Jesus Christ holy in our lives (v.13). We must value God's holiness above all else.
This grows a healthy fear of God in our lives, which leads to righteous living. We aren't to fear men and diseases, but fear the one who can destroy both our bodies and souls in hell (Matthew 10:28).
The knowledge of God's holiness
reduces our pride and motivates our will. This lies at the heart of a
disciple's lifetime tension and struggle. Our sinful nature is always at work in us reducing our knowledge of righteous living, and eroding our concern for God's holiness.
Disciples are to bind up God's word in their hearts, sealing their life with its content (v.16). God's law and Christ's words are to be honored through a submissive attitude and genuine obedience (Mark 8:38).
God also insists through Isaiah that his disciples are to seek him, instead of turning to worldly guidance (v.19-20). We must turn to God's word in study and prayer, devoting our thoughts, interests, and activities to him.
Spiritual strength will
build from the constant influx of God's wisdom. A disciple always prays about matters, and also seeks guidance from his Christian mentors.
Jesus' disciples today are the ones who believe the Bible's teachings; who value his sacrifice and the fact that Jesus is risen; who are led by Jesus' Spirit; and, who imitate Jesus' example.
Disciples exhibit noticeably changed lives.
The true disciple becomes more peaceful, more loving, more genuine, more thoughtful, more helpful, more giving, and more focused.
Spiritual fruit grows in his or her life, and the body of Christ becomes larger as the disciple's life multiplies into more disciples.
Jesus is risen, therefore, he is always with you. He is always here, with us, his body of believers. One of his names given at his birth, Immanuel, means "God with us." That will never change.
His Spirit is here, working in and through those who love him. Jesus finished his command by saying, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20b NIV).
This is the greatest of comforts to the follower of Christ no matter their situation.
Jesus is with us and communicates with us, lavishing us with love and care. Like God's holiness, Christ's love motivates our own discipleship AND our efforts in teaching others (2 Corinthians 5:14-20). He reveals himself to us in countless ways, guiding us towards holiness.
Jesus is risen and he proves it through his Spirit's presence and counsel.
We can believe this by faith, i.e. he said that he will be here; and, we can believe it through experience.
We know those explicit moments when he gives us exactly what we need, whether a friend, comforter, teacher, or even when we need an authority for our discipline (Hebrews 12:6).
Truthfully, if a person is in God's word these experiential effects are much, much greater. One's heart becomes sensitive to God's mode of communication as you read and study the Bible.
Because Jesus is risen, he comforts us with his Spirit.
Jesus is risen, therefore, we have a mission. We have to proclaim to the world that Jesus defeated death. This is a wonderful honor for Jesus' disciples.
We're chosen to communicate the message of hope for life after death. Life doesn't end at one's last breath, in fact, life in the presence of the risen Christ begins at that moment.
Life doesn't end in a grave!
Our best life isn't now, it begins when we meet Jesus face-to-face!
The good news is that God forgives our sin because of his Son's sacrifice. We can be made friends of God (Romans 5:11). But, you may ask, "Can't I be saved and stop short of discipleship?"
Jesus says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23 NIV). Do you include yourself in Jesus' word "anyone?" I hope so.
Desiring forgiveness and salvation from God means you want to follow Christ, because apart from him, there is no salvation. Therefore, if you want forgiveness, you'll want to become a disciple. If you want salvation, you'll want to become a disciple. If you want heaven, you'll want to become a disciple.
Jesus is risen, therefore, you must go on mission with him.
Are all saved people disciples? Probably not, as the thief on the cross can attest. Are all disciples saved? Definitely not, as Judas can attest (also see John 6:66). Wisdom, though, is leery of those people who claim salvation, but have forsaken discipleship. That isn't a good sign for their relationship with God.
We will have our ups and downs, but to disengage from God's word, prayer, and the church reveals a serious heart problem. No one has the right to claim God's riches if they're neglecting God's holiness and the call to discipleship.
Jesus is risen! So... who dare neglect the mission?
Bible Study Questions:
1) Why does the fact that Jesus is risen ultimately lead to the great commission?
2) Where can new disciples of Christ turn to get solid teaching on the Scriptures and Christian living?
3) How does the fact of Jesus' comforting presence help his disciples through discouraging days?
Inspirational Bible Verses:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV)
Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people. Mark 1:17
Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like their teacher. Luke 6:40
Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God. Luke 9:62
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings." John 8:31
At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. John 6:66
Prayers of Thanksgiving:
Dear Lord God, Thank you for the fact that Jesus is risen from the grave. This plan took you thousands of years to complete, and now you've proclaimed it to the world for nearly 2000 years. We have no right to neglect our duty, which is our mission responsibility to you and your kingdom. Because Jesus is risen we need to follow Jesus. Because Jesus is risen we need to spread the word. Lord, empower us. In Christ's name, Amen.
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