Jesus commands his church to make disciples. How should we do this? And what does this look like at East Madison? In this sermon, we’ll answer these questions as we understand Jesus’ great commission to the church.
The first disciples faced many barriers to obeying Christ’s command to “go and make disciples.” Those barriers still exist today. Jesus, however, anticipated every barrier, fear, and objection. He answered them with two powerful statements.
In the second half of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus turns our attention from God (how he makes himself known, his moral rule, and his purposes) to our own needs, material, moral, and spiritual. This continuing pattern for our own prayer remind us regularly of the extent to which we depend upon the Lord for every aspect of our life, and the extent of his grace in those whom he holds as his children
Prayer can be hypocritical, faithless, and even un-Christian. But Jesus teaches us a better way to pray. In the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, he focuses our priorities upon God’s name, kingdom, and will.
God expects his children to pray to him. Most of us, however, are like the disciples who said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” There is honesty in the disciples’ request; they wanted to know how to do something they had already been doing for quite a while. Didn’t they already know how to pray? This admission reminds us, if we’re honest, that prayer isn’t as simple as it sounds. We struggle with self-discipline, with focusing our thoughts, and with knowing what to say. Have I prayed long enough? Is God disappointed in my frail prayer life? Jesus’ response is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer. A close study of this model prayer will answer a lot of our own questions about prayer. So today we begin a four-part series on the Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus walked right through several religious barriers in order to reach those who were sick and dying from sin. Then he turned and rebuked the Pharisees who had erected those barriers. Jesus’ method of evangelism challenges us all to examine our own hearts. Are we more like Pharisees than we’re ready to admit? Do we really understand Jesus’ mission?
In the parables previous to this, Jesus has said much about how His followers are to wait for His return, always ready, prepared to wait, and making use of His resources for His purposes. Now, in the concluding section of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus describes what His followers look like as they wait: Jesus’s disciples love those Jesus loves, not out of seeking reward (though there will be reward for his people) or out of fear of punishment (though there will be punishment for those who are not), but in accordance with their new nature.
The Parable of the Talents is in many ways a culmination of Jesus describing how his disciples are to wait for his return. Having told us to be ready at any time, and to be ready to wait longer than we expect, he goes on to describe his expectations of specifically how we are to wait. These expectations are exacting, but encouraging, as they hold out hope of great reward for faithful servants.
Who was responsible for Jesus’ death? Beginning at the foot of the cross, we trace backwards through the final hours of Jesus’ life to find the answer. There are several culpable persons, but they all force us to answer a much bigger question.
The second chapter of Matthew’s account presents some challenges in understanding the concept of fulfillment of Scripture. The apparent difficulties of the four fulfillments Matthew records force us to take a look at how to read our Bibles, and moreover bring us face to face with a very difficult question indeed about how and why God acts in history – a question that brings us ultimately to one of the most basic and astounding truths in the whole of God’s revealed word for His people.