The last command of Jesus was a command to make disciples of all nations. This command is operative until the end of the age. It’s not the end of the age yet, so it’s still an assignment for believers. Every Christian can experience the thrill of the Great Commission by recognizing the “all” guarantees of Jesus.
1. The Authority of the Assignment
Jesus guaranteed: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and one earth.”
Jesus assured His followers that their missional assignment wasn’t a matter of them figuring out how to carry out their assignment. He sent them — and us! The measure to which you grasp His power will determine your confidence in carrying out the rest of this command.
● How much authority does Jesus have?
2. The Audacity of the Assignment
Jesus commanded: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing then in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.”
This isn’t some call to go and tell people about Jesus and encourage them to become interested in Jesus. It may begin with that, but we’re inviting them to experience total life change. When we seek to obey everything Jesus commanded us we must trust completely in Him instead of ourselves.
● In what ways is the Great Commission an audacious assignment?
3. The Audience of the Assignment
Jesus defined the scope of our assignment: Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations.
We must guard against taking this command for granted because all people without Christ are lost. We must therefore take the good news about Jesus to every nation — to all peoples.
● Read Acts 4:12. Why does this make it imperative that we over the Great Commission?
4. The Accomplishment of the Assignment
Jesus assured His followers: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus is with us — personally and corporately. He is with us to guide and empower as we carry out the Great Commission.
● How can the presence of Jesus embolden you to carry out the Great Commission?
Jesus called us out of the darkness and into the light — and He calls us to bring light to the darkest places. Until He returns, we must be faithful to fulfill the assignment He has given us.
● It’s an assignment given by His authority.
● It’s an assignment that is audacious in its nature.
● It’s an assignment that commands an audience with everybody everywhere.
● It’s an assignment that includes the thrill of Christ’s accompanying us every step of the way.
How could we say no to that assignment?
We all want desperately to matter, to mean something, to live meaningful lives, to have an impact, to make a difference. The desire isn’t the problem. The problem is how and where we seek it.
• Spend some time talking as a family about where you tend to look for validation or meaning in life.
Jesus had an encounter with a woman who anointed Him with oil. Afterwards, Jesus sayid, “What she has done will also be told in memory of her.” In Jesus’ estimation, what she did was worth remembering. Perhaps, if we follower her path we too can live a life worth remembering.
1. Respond to the Call
Mary didn’t act first. She responded to what Jesus had already done. She had heard Jesus teach, she had seen Him act, and then she took advantage of an opportunity to respond to Him. So, the first step to finding a meaningful life is to seek the Lord to see how he has already gifted, equipped and placed you where he wants you for his glory and your good.
• Discuss as a family the different God-given gifts you see in one another and talk about ways to glorify Him through the use of those gifts.
2. Recognize the Cost
Mary poured out a year’s wages onto the head and feet of Jesus, and she didn’t hold anything back. She understood the cost of her lavish act. Following Jesus promises fulfillment, but it will cost you everything you have.
• What is your most valuable possession? Do you think you’d be able to give it joyfully to Jesus if He asked?
Matthew 16:24-25 says ,“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.”
• Consider taking some time this week as a family to read about other men and women of the faith who sacrificed much in order to follow and serve Christ. Thank the Lord for their example.
3. Reject the Critics
Matthew 26:8-9 says, “When the disciples saw it, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This might have been sold for a great deal and given to the poor.”
Mary didn’t see her critics because she focused on Jesus. And that is what we have to do, too. The world is full of people who are determined to disagree with you no matter what you do. The reason is that devotion to Jesus has a way of revealing the gods on the thrones of other people’s hearts. Acts of devotion and discipline are always misunderstood and you will never please everyone. Don’t be distracted by the crowd of critics, fix your eyes on Jesus and run with endurance.
• What type of criticism is hardest for you to overlook? In what areas of your life do you need to fix your eyes on Jesus and run with endurance?
4. Refocus on “Can”
In Mark’s version of this story, Jesus said, “She has done what she could.” (Mark 14:8) The frustration many of us feel in seeking after a meaningful life is that we see all too clearly our limitations. To find a meaningful life we need to stop focusing on what we don’t have and what we can’t do, and start looking for the good works God has already laid out in front of us and walk in them.
• As a family, take a moment to ask: “What can we do, where we are, with what we have?”
• What path are you on as you seek to live a life worth remembering?
• What are the good works Jesus has already laid in front of you to walk in?
The Parable of the Talents gives us a glimpse into what we should be doing while we await the return of Jesus. God has entrusted each of us with resources to invest to advance His purposes in the world. These resources include more than our finances. We must also be good stewards of our gifts and the opportunities He places before us to share and show the love of Jesus to a world in need.
The master in the story commended the servant who wisely invested the funds entrusted to him. His master called him faithful. Faithfulness can be defined as the state of being unchanging, steadfast, and found to be reliable in the duties assigned. In other words, a faithful person is a person you can count on. Jesus is telling us how to live in the last days! And our response to the reality that Christ’s return is imminent could be wrapped up in one word: Faithfulness.
God calls each of us to be faithful in three areas.
First, we are called to be faithful in the small things (Matt. 25:21). We must learn to be faithful in the small things. The big things in life are made out of little acts, little words, little thoughts. You can’t have the much without having the little.
● What small things has Good called you to do?
Second, we must be faithful in social things (Matt. 25:40). We need one another. We are called to be faithful to one another — even when it’s hard. Hebrews 10:24-25 admonish us to gather for worship because we need one another.
Donald Whitney, in his famous book Spiritual Disciplines, wrote this long before Coronavirus: “There’s an element of worship and Christianity that cannot be experienced in private worship or by watching worship. There are some graces and blessings that God gives only in the ‘meeting together’ with other believers.”
● In what ways are you remaining faithful in worship during this pandemic season?
Third, we must be faithful in spiritual things (Matt. 25:21). God wants us to be near to Him — to rise above the mess of this world and to connect regularly with Him.
● In what ways are you drawing closer to God during this pandemic season?
The Bible has much to say about the future. One in five verses of Scripture are prophetic in nature. The disciples asked Jesus three questions about the future: (Read Matthew 24:3)
• When will these things happen?
• What are the signs of your coming?
• What are the signs of the end of the age?
What will be the signs of Jesus ’return?
• In 1 minute, brainstorm together all of the signs that you can think of: i.e. stop sign, 3rd base coach, for sale sign, etc.
• What is the purpose of signs?
Extreme responses to prophetic signs are sensationalism and skepticism.
Discuss these two extremes as it relates to weather. Who is a good example of someone who leans toward sensationalism? Who is a good example of someone that is skeptical?
Neither is an appropriate response to weather systems or prophecy.
Jesus offers three rational steps to take when considering the “signs of the times.”
1. Fig Tree — Get Ready (Read Matthew 24:32-35)
• How does it provide an example of confidence?
2. Noah — Get Ready (Read Matthew 24:36-42)
• What does the story of Noah teach about being aware?
• Mom & Dad: talk with your children about your experiences with their childbirth: pregnancy test results, excitement, plans & preparations, long wait – 9 months but then the day comes, how you knew it was time, etc.
• Good news: relate the good news of their coming into the world to the good news of Jesus’ return.
3. Thief — Get Ready (Read Matthew 24:43-44)
• When you leave home for a vacation, what do you do?
• When a major storm is coming, what do you do?.
• On a piece of paper write this question at the top and answer, “What 5 things do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?”
• On the reverse side write this question and answer, “What would you want to accomplish if you knew that the Lord was going to come in the next 7 years?”
• If the two list are different, what changes do you need to make?
According to history, 114 world leaders have added the world “great” to their name, as Herod the Great or Alexander the Great. Tony the Tiger boasted that Frosted Flakes were great! We also have Great Lakes and a Great Barrier Reef.
What is greatness? What makes someone great?
The disciples asked Jesus an interesting question about greatness: “So who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus answered by pointing to a child. He didn’t call a professor to demonstrate knowledge, or a ruler to demonstrate position, or an old man to demonstrate experience, or a rich man to demonstrate wealth. He pointed to a child!
We can understand true greatness when we see why Jesus focused on children.
1. Greatness is demonstrated in child-like dependence.
In Jesus’ day, children were viewed as having little importance, no authority, and as someone to be looked after rather than looked up to. There’s really nothing a child can take credit for without acknowledging that the resources, power, protection, and ability to do it came from his parents.
Salvation happens when we realize our total inability to justify ourselves by our own good works, and we instead place our trust in Jesus.
• What lessons can you glean from watching the dependence of children on their parents?
2. Greatness is demonstrated in child-like boldness.
Jesus said, “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child — this one is the greatest in the kingdom. Notice that twice Jesus referred specifically to the child in His lap by saying “this child.” This was a child who was seeking to be near Jesus.
Your measure of boldness will be determined by your sense of security in Jesus. If you’re insecure, you’ll be fearful. If you’re secure, you’re be bold.
• How would you rate your boldness? How can you become a bolder follower of Jesus?
If you seek greatness through only dependence, but you never respond boldly to the calling he gives you, you will miss out on so many blessing He has for you!
If you seek greatness through only boldness, but you think you can pull this off on your own, you end up failing miserably in the long run. You’re a flash in the pan, because your weakness is eventually exposed, no matter how bold you are.
• When you seek the Lord, are you willing to come as a child?
We all have questions about eternity. John Piper, a Christian pastor and author, said, “Answer the big question of eternity, and the little questions of life fall into perspective.” Jesus had an encounter with a man who had questions about eternity. We can glean three important things from this encounter.
First: Everyone Has an Important Question
The writer of Ecclesiastes (3:11) said that God has put eternity into the heart of man. There is something in us that longs for answers about eternity. The young man who approached Jesus wanted to know what parts of the law he needed to keep in order to gain eternal life. He felt confident that he had kept the commandments and asked what more he needed to do.
• What questions do you have about heaven?
Second: Everyone Has an Idol
Jesus challenged the young man to sell his belongings and give the proceeds to the poor — and then, most important, to leave everything behind and follow Him. Jesus made it clear that following Him would cost the man everything. He needed to trust in Jesus rather than in His wealth. We must examine our own lives to determine if there is anything that we have placed ahead of Jesus.
• Is there an idol in your life that is vying for your attention? If so, what steps do you need to take to sell all you have and follow Jesus wholeheartedly?
Sadly, the young man went away grieving because he had many possessions. The cost of following Jesus was too high for him.
Third: Everyone Has a Savior
After the young man departed, the disciples, astonished at what they had just witnessed, asked Jesus an important question: “Then who can be saved?” (Matt. 19:25). Jesus pointed out that salvation is impossible without God. The young man in the story wanted to be righteous but he did not want a relationship. By asking the young man to sell his goods, Jesus was forcing him to examine his own heart and determine his priorities.
• To whom or to what are you looking to for salvation? Is there anything in your life that keeps you from trusting or following Jesus wholeheartedly?
We are now half way through 2020 — a year which, to many, feels like the worst year in recent memory. Yet, as we celebrate our country’s independence this weekend, it is helpful to remember there have always been challenging seasons in our history.
The year 1776 was so difficult it prompted Thomas Paine to pen the famous statement “these are the times that try men’s souls…” What are we to do in times of such difficulty?
Consider the gift of Brotherhood/Sisterhood. Brotherhood/Sisterhood can be defined in this way:
A deep, mutual bond between Christians that is joyfully expressed in service and sacrifice for each other’s good and for God’s glory.
This is important, especially in these times in which we are trying to “keep our distance.” It can be very tempting to withdraw into isolation. However, alone is dangerous. That is why sharing a brotherhood/sisterhood type of bond with our brothers and sisters in Christ can help us survive and even thrive in challenging times.
There are two key aspects of our brotherhood/sisterhood that are particularly important
1. Shared Risk
We were never meant to withstand the pressures and risks of life by ourselves. Challenges, fears, anxieties, and other concerns can be overcome when we lock arms with our brothers and sisters. There is a unique and powerful bond we experience when we engage in life with others at our side. There is something truly powerful in knowing you are with others who are committed to your well-being.
John 15:13: No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.
Prov 17:17: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
2. Shared Reward
Brotherhood/Sisterhood is more than way to cope with the challenges of life. It’s more than accomplishing a goal or winning a battle together. The relationship we experience with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ is the ultimate reward. If we look back, we may look fondly on events or accomplishments, but more than anything we should consider the value of the relationships we have developed.
The Marines have a wonderful motto that summarizes this beautifully:
Saepius Exertus, Semper Fidelis, Frater Infintas — which translated means: Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever!
In this life we will be often tested, but as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we experience an incredible reward of being brother and sisters, faithful and forever.
Think About It | Talk About It
Are you as smart as a Marine? What is the English translation to these Latin terms?
• Saepius Exertus
• Semper Fidelis
• Frater Infintas
• Are you experiencing the gift of brotherhood/sisterhood? If not, what may be keeping you from reaching out to others?
• If you are experiencing the gift of brotherhood/sisterhood, talk about some experiences you have had and express your gratitude to God.
• If you are feeling isolated, what are some ways you might begin to initiate connection with others? Pray that God might put on your heart a person or group who you might connect with. Examples could be:
Scripture Passage: Matthew 14:1-12
Every Christ follower should be prepared to stand for truth regardless of the cost because of three unavoidable facts about the tension between Christianity and Culture:
1. The Truth Hurts
When people are living in rebellion, we shouldn’t be surprised when they push back. We should absolutely expect the world to have an aversion to the truth. We should, however, influence the world with the truth of God when we can. This is what John did in this passage at tremendous risk. You too can demonstrate a life changed by Christ, speak the truth in love, seek to influence your culture, and also carry the message of the Good News to people who don’t know.
The Scriptures give us some reminders about how to speak the truth in love:
• We are called to be civil. Read1 Peter 2:17.
• We are called to be faithful. Read Acts 5:27-29.
2. Power Exposes
Some people incorrectly assume that all people in power are corrupt. That’s not true. Power exposes real character. It shows up before there’s influence, but it’s exposed when influence increases. Why? Because conflict increases, problems increase, challenges increase, and as a result character is exposed. In an imperfect world, there are going to be leaders who succumb to the pressure to abuse power and abuse privilege. And when they do, we must not back down. John spoke the truth. We must do the same.
3. Jesus Wins
We never have to panic – as if we’re on the verge of the church’s demise! There is no panic button in Heaven. Author, theologian, and philosopher Dr. Jim Denison has said he believes our culture is more like the first century culture in which the Church was born than any century since. We have a lot of the same challenges!
However, let’s remember what else happened in the First Century. The Church of Jesus grew faster than it ever has in history. And that could happen again! There is perhaps no greater opportunity in our lifetime to share the good news of Jesus! There’s no reason for us to be in panic mode. We simply stand on the truth! We have the privilege of engaging the culture in amazing ways.
• Is your family prepared to interact with the secular culture on biblical issues?
• How are you going to sustain what you believe in when you are surrounded by those who disagree?
• When have you spoken the truth and received push back?
• How can you grow in the area of speaking the truth in love?
• Like John, are you willing to stand for truth no matter what the cost?
• Do you find yourself carrying a huge burden by trying to please everyone?
• Why is it important to establish boundaries and convictions now rather than later?
• Read John 16:33 and allow it to encourage your family to remember in any situation or circumstance that Jesus Wins!
Scripture Passage: Matthew 11
- Be bold enough to ask.
Verse 1-3. When we encounter hard situations or are struggling, it’s important to be bold enough to ask. John in this passage probably thought the plan was going different than he expected or thought it would. John is doubting but deals with it the right way by bringing his doubts directly to Jesus.
- Be wise enough to know.
Wisdom focuses on knowledge rather than emotion. Emotions can easily deceive you. In verses 4-6, Jesus is quoting Old Testament prophecy and redirects back to truth.
- Be tender enough to accept.
In this passage, Jesus reminds John how he sees him. It’s important to be tender enough to accept both how God truly sees us as well as believe God is who He says he is.
- What stood out to you most from the message this morning?
- How do you relate to John in this passage?
- Is there Scripture truth you need to cling to this morning? What passage comes to mind?
- In what areas of your life do you need to take your doubt, struggles or unbelief to God? Be bold and do so!
In those situations, what is the truth about how God sees you? What is the truth about who God is? Seek wisdom and truth.