The Great Commission Includes Us All

4th April

 “Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in Heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach the new disciples to obey all the commands I have give you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the ages.”

Matthew 28:18-20

Matthew records in his account of Jesus’ last days, what is probably the most famous of His last words to the disciples. Yet the most exciting thing from this passage is that it includes us too.  We are also commissioned to go into the world and make disciples for Christ. Yet so often we reserve this particular passage for missionaries who are being sent across the world to serve in gospel-deprived nations. I love that the NLT translation of this text. It doesn’t say go to the nations and make disciples, rather it says make disciples of all nations. This is a more inclusive translation and when we think about it, in actual fact we can be God’s witnesses wherever we are. The rich man in our workplace who thinks he has life sorted because of his growing wealth and status on this earth needs someone to show him Christ as much as the deprived, malnourished child in the war zone of Sudan.

So what message do we bring to the nations? How do we make new disciples for Christ? By teaching the commands Jesus gave to His disciples: “To love the Lord your God above all else” and “to love your neighbour as yourself“. If we teach other believers to follow these commandments then surely people will come to know Jesus. In actual fact Jesus has commissioned us all to do this. Whether that is through the way we live our lives in replicating Jesus’ commands through our lifestyles or whether we actually verbally teach it to others, we are all called to be witnesses of Christ’s commandments to the world.

Yet the key to this passage is not ‘living’ and ‘doing’ in our own strength and authority but in rather in the authority given to us through Jesus Christ, the risen and resurrected King. Because He lives, we too can access authority in His Name as the sons and daughters of His Kingdom. Jesus is now forever with us “even until the end of the ages”. All we need to do is draw on His strength, be His witnesses to All Nations, and show them Christ’s love through word and deed.

 Go into the world and make disciples for Him!!

Breakfast By The Sea

 Wednesday 3rd April

John 21:9-14

 Then as soon as they had come to the land, they saw a fire of coals there, and a fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught”. Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty three, and although there were so many, the net was not broken. Jesus said to them “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask him “who are You?” – knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish. This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.”

 Being a chef, this passage really speaks to me. I am a sucker for a good BBQ. You say BBQ and I am there. You say a fish BBQ and you’re going to have to hold me back. Fish that has been cooked on the BBQ, if done properly is an absolute delight. The excitement I feel about just reading this story is probably tiny compared to the excitement the disciples must have felt.

 They had just been fishing all night and caught nothing until Jesus showed up. When they did re-throw their nets, their catch was plentiful. Tired and worn out yet enthused about seeing Jesus again, they willing come and eat with Jesus. Jesus, the Lord and Creator of the whole world, God in human form had humbled Himself again and cooked His disciples a meal by the beach. I love the picture that this builds of Jesus. Jesus is taking time out with His disciples, investing in them and feeding them so they can go out and feed others. They disciples knew who was with them, yet in reverence of Him, feared to ask. They had just witnessed another divine provision of fish and now they are eating a meal cooked by God Himself.

The picture that this builds really highlights the benefit of investing in individuals so they can make in a difference in this world. Jesus could have easily settled for revealing Himself once to His disciples (John 20) so He could go and show Himself to more people so they would believe He was God. Yet what we see here in Jesus investing time and fellowshipping with those who were closest to Him during His earthly ministry. He stoops again to their level and cooks them FISH.

 How is your fellowship with Jesus? Is He part of your everyday life? Jesus wants to invest in you so you can go and impact others! Jesus is a personal God who cares for your every need. Next time you are hungry, ask Jesus to feed you!!

The Risen King Goes Fishing

Tuesday 2nd April

John 21:1-7 

After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself; Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael, and two others of the disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing”. They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood at the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them “Children, have you any food?”. They answered Him “No”. And He said to them “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it because of the multitude of fish. Therefore the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on His outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 

Peter having previously denied Jesus, finds himself leading the other disciples back to Galilee, his home town. Although Jesus, in the previous chapter, had revealed Himself to all the disciples, it seems that Peter has decided to go back to his old life and to what he knew best, fishing! After toiling all night and catching nothing, Jesus shows Himself again to the disciples and tells them to re-throw their nets. Of course the obvious happens and they catch a multitude of fish, 153 to be exact. After the catch John recognizes that it is Jesus, His Lord. As he tells Peter, Peter puts a covering over his body, jumps out the boat and swims to the shore to greet Him, shortly followed by the other disciples.

This passage is almost exact mirror of the story in Luke 5:1-11 whereby Jesus again, miraculously helps the disciples catch fish. However at the end of that particular miracle Jesus turns and says to Peter that he will no longer catch fish but men, you will be a fisher of men. So why do we see Peter back fishing again in this passage? It seems like Peter and the other disciples are hopelessly and aimlessly searching for direction. They had just given up their careers and after 3 and half years of following Jesus, they are leaderless. Fishing is what they knew. So Jesus, once again reveals Himself to them so they might know that their nets are to gather men not fish. See Jesus had previously showed this to Peter, when He commanded him to go and catch men. Peter was the disciple’s leader yet instead of leading them to catch men, he led them to catch fish again. This revelation of seeing the risen Christ must have reminded Peter of Jesus words that were previously spoken to him. Go and catch MEN!! 

Sometimes in our lives we get lost and almost feel like we are wondering in the wilderness. We lose our way and go back to the only things we know how to do. That is called our comfort zones!! Jesus commands us all to be radical, to be fishers of men. However this revelation only comes when Jesus reveals who is a fresh in our lives. Peter had previously seen the resurrected Christ, yet it needed this miracle to get him back on track, to re-align his focus to Jesus’ commission to him and to jump out the boat. Notice that Jesus didn’t call Peter out the boat he jumped himself. When we have an encounter with the risen King, our lives radically change. Are you willing to jump out the boat? Have you lost your focus and are in need of re-aligning yourself with the revelation of the risen Christ?