Returning to preaching the Gospel and nothing but the Gospel, Part III

Emilie Bouvier, "Fertile Soil." (Split Rock Lighthouse State Park; Two Harbors, MN)Image © Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.

In Matthew 28:16-20, we read about a unique event.

Jesus, God incarnate, had lived on the earth for approximately thirty three years and spent a little over three years with his disciples. He poured his life into theirs. Jesus spoke to them concerning His mission on the earth and taught them about the kingdom of God. They knew Him and besides being their Savior, Master, and Teacher; He became a friend.  Their love for Jesus was strong. He was their role model and because of Jesus, they had hopes, dreams, and great aspirations. It was for these reasons that His death was a crushing blow to all of them. Their faith was tested through the accusations brought against Him, though they knew as well as we do, that the accusations were baseless. When He was arrested, all but John and Peter ran away and could not be accounted for during the entire trial and even up to His death and resurrection.

As promised, our Lord arose from the grave on the third day. Death could not hold Him captive! Jesus arose after having defeated principalities and powers and making an open show of them. He appeared, accordance to the Apostle Paul, to Cephas, the eleven apostles, and to more than five hundred brethren at once (1 Corinthians 15:5-6). After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus stayed for another forty day before ascending to heaven to regain His place at the right hand of the Father.

However, before leaving, He told His disciples to meet Him in Galilee. Knowing that He would soon be leaving them, the disciples understood that this called meeting was very important. He was about to give them His final words or instructions. They knew that they had to pay close attention to what He was about to say. This would be His final instruction to them.

Imagine for a moment that your father or mother is about to leave you forever and he/she calls you and your siblings together to give you his/her final word. Would you be curious to know what is on his/her mind? Would you take his/her last words seriously? Would you cherish those last moments you have to spend with him/her? I am sure that you would!

The disciples found themselves in similar situation. Jesus was about to leave earth. But first Jesus gave them His final words; His master plan for humanity: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore 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 that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

A close examination of Jesus’ words reveals that He sought to establish His authority in the hearts and minds of those to whom He has entrusted the Great Commission. He said, “All authority has been given to me.” It means that in preaching the gospel, we must realize that:

  • All authority has been given to Jesus (both in the heavens and on the earth).
  • In preaching the Word of God, we are operating under the authority of Christ.
  • Satan and the forces of darkness can’t harm us or hinder the Word from going forth.
  • Heaven is backing us and no weapon formed against us will prosper.
  • The authority that we have is primarily to make disciples for Christ through the proclamation  of the gospel.

It is important for us as preachers to know that “Jesus has our back” as we preach the gospel message. As previously mentioned, one of the reasons why we do not preach the gospel in its totality is simply because we are afraid that someone will get mad or we might get kicked out of our church. If we know the God in whom we trust and the One about whom we preach, then we need to take consolation in the fact that He has all authority. God can do whatever He pleases and He has chosen to call, prepare, and ordain us to serve as His spokesperson on earth. He says in Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from me, declares the Lord.” 

I am reminded of Exodus 4, when God called Moses to go and bring His children out of Egypt. Moses was afraid and found excuses. His fear was based on his background, experience, sin, and the prevailing condition of the Children of Israel. In the midst of giving his excuses, God asked him, “What is that in your hands?” He said, “A staff.” To Moses, it was simply a staff, but to God it was more than a staff. It was a mean by which He could demonstrate His power and authority. Moses quickly realized that in every situation, there is always a God-factor that if introduced has the ability to change the equation. This is why challenges that may appear to be over our heads are actually under God’s feet.

Now, if I realize these challenges are actually under God’s feet, all I need to do is to ask God to put His feet down and crush them. It is that simple! I just need to realize that it is God Almighty who has called me, and He will not let me to be disgraced if I preach His word uncompromisingly. We may not have much, or we may not be excellent orators, but the little we possess when turned over to God is enough for us to accomplish His assigned tasks. Let me remind us about that happened in the following situations:

1. Miriam, Moses’ sister (Exodus 15:20-21) only had a tambourine, but she used it to lead the people of God in worship after they crossed the Red Sea.
2. David (I Samuel 17:41-51) had a little sling that he used to defeat Goliath, the giant who terrorized the entire army of Israel.
3. The widow of Zarapheth (1 Kings 17:7-15) had only enough food for one meal to feed her and her son, but she gave it to God’s servant, Elijah and she had food for the rest of the famine.
4.  The little boy (John 6:9-14) had only five barley loaves and two fish, and Jesus used it to feed over 5,000 people.
5.  Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, had only an alabaster jar of very costly ointment (Matthew 26:7-13), which she poured on Jesus in preparation for his burial. Because of her action, she is forever remembered wherever the gospel is preached.
6.  The poor widow (Luke 21:1-4) only had two coins, but Jesus praised her because she gave sacrificially.
7.  Peter and John did not have any money to give the crippled man (Acts 3:2-8), but they had the name of Jesus and it brought healing and changed his life forever.

We, preachers of the gospel, have something. It may not appear to be much, but we have something! It is the Word of God. Preach the Word because it has power to transform lives. It never changes.

Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me, go therefore ….” Do we as preachers fully understand the implications? Do we know what it means to have Christ on your side? Do we understand what it means to serve as His ambassadors here on earth?

My prayer is that we will fully understand the richness, power, comfort, fulfillment, and authority found in proclaiming the gospel and nothing but the gospel.