What “Therefore” Is There For
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 28:19a (Holman) “Go, therefore, . . .”
When you see a “therefore” in the Bible, see what it’s there for. We might have thought the immediate conclusion from Jesus’ claim to having ultimate authority (v. 18) would be to comfort the people He was leaving behind. Instead, His first words were obligation, a command, not comfort.
We are to exercise His authority by fulfilling His mandate to take His story to the whole world. We can do this effectively only in His strength. Whether we know it or not, or like it or not, we are weak. Jesus is the true force in any success we see. Our pride is often our biggest obstacle.
Rudyard Kipling, in my favorite secular poem, “If,” calls Triumph and Disaster two imposters. Our disasters, things that bring us to the precipice of quitting, often prove to be an open door to our finest accomplishments.
Triumph, the other imposter, has led many to a downfall. Failure has slain its thousands; success its tens of thousands. Danger lurks in success.
Let me speak to you, my dear people, from my heart. I am grateful and honored to be Pastor of the most giving people I have ever known. Your heart for missions is well spoken of near and far. But is it possible our success has caused us (me) to begin looking inward for strength?
I will not berate us. A most uncomfortable memory happened in a church I visited one Sunday on vacation. The Pastor told his people they had led their state convention in baptisms. Thinking congratulations were coming, I was horrified when the Pastor scolded the congregation for not doing better. It was awful. I felt he should have been ashamed of himself.
I will not belittle you. You are my joy and delight, engraved on my heart by God. I love you. I love us. I don’t have pat answers for a question this important. We must each of us do serious introspection on ourselves.
We need Jesus’ authority, His marching orders and power. Second most needs a revival sent from Heaven, something so amazing that people would have to gasp, “Only God.” Only Jesus can unleash these powers. He rules them. Plead for a Holy Spirit downpour of power to flood our church!
Matt. 20:19b “. . . and make disciples of all nations, . . .”
What Jesus did for the disciples, He expected them to duplicate, to do for others. They were to do for the nations what He had done for them.
Our mission has only one limitation, “all nations”. The Gospel is to be taken to the whole world: every nation, tribe, and tongue. Don’t shrivel it, or hold it hostage anywhere. Jesus meant for us to ignore boundaries and political lines. The Gospel is meant to fly, to be heard by every listening ear.
We are to try to win every person on the planet because Jesus died and rose for every human being. He is saying, “Because I earned authority over the whole world, you go win it back for me from its usurping leader.”
Jesus said take the nations. His first followers did not question His command. They set themselves to the task. As a result, Earth changed.
Over 30 civilizations had fertility gods: Caanan, Asherim; Germanic, Nerthus; Greece, Aphrodite; Rome, Venus; Babylonia, Ishtar; Phoenicia, Astarte. These sex-abominations are gone. Jesus’ followers erased them.
At least 30 civilizations had war gods: Greece, Ares and Athena; Assyria, Asher; Rome, Mars; Mexico, Mextii; Jesus took the fight out of them.
Father gods proliferated: Egypt, Ra; Greece, Zeus; Rome, Jupiter; the Norse, Odin; Persia, Ahura Mazda. Jesus robbed them of their fatherhood.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission, Roman gods ruled the West. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, etc. reigned supreme from atop Mt. Olympus. Jesus evicted them, and hurled their reputation into outer space.
Their names are remembered only as planets, the last memorials to what appeared to be invincible gods. Our solar system is a monument to the victorious march of Jesus’ followers who obeyed His Great Commission.
Jesus did not have to command us to take His name to everyone. He could have left people in their ignorance and darkness, but His love refused to let Him forsake us. The abuse of Calvary did not rob Jesus of His love.
He sent His followers to rescue His crucifiers. Pagans left their idols to worship Jesus. Rome’s Emperors became Christians; Europe and the New World followed the Nazarene; Africa and Asia have joined the parade.
All this due to a crucified, risen God who said, “I am not content with world-wide declared authority (v. 18). I don’t want superficial dominance over people. I desire each person to freely yield to my authority, person by person. I want willing, voluntary surrender from people. I yearn for them to love Me because I love them. Followers of Me, go convince them for Me.”
Matt. 28:19c-20a “. . . baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.”
“Baptize them”; that is, gather them into groups; we call them churches. Teach them to obey. True education about Jesus always involves learning how to work for Jesus. It is not enough to know the doctrines of Christianity without fulfilling its commands. “You cannot serve the devil better than by joining a church and doing nothing” (Spurgeon).
There is work to do. Effective Christians excel at down-right practical work for Jesus. They get things done. They go, disciple, baptize, and teach. What we do or don’t do matters. Which side of the equation are we on?