There are some statements that seem to come to mind in certain situations; phrases that were fueled by extraordinary moments. I think of the words of Neil Armstrong as he floated gracefully to the surface of the moon from the ladder of the lunar module, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Or Richard Nixon’s, “I’m not a criminal!” Or what about those great moments in sports? There’s the famous Verne Lundquist commentary as Jack Nicklaus holed putt after putt in the 1986 Masters at Augusta, “Yes sir!” Or Verne’s dramatic commentary as Tiger holed a chip shot on the 16th at Augusta National, “Oh wow! In your life have seen anything like that?!” And there’s always Mohammad Ali, “I’m the greatest!” Or, “I’m pretty! I’m a bad man!” Without a doubt, statements that are made can become household phrases…depending on the peculiarity of the situation.
Jesus offered many words that would challenge those who heard them. We know this full well. They challenge us today. When Jesus was preparing his disciples for his departure, he presented to them his mission which he expected them to fulfill. He made sure that they understood the gravity of this task. There is great urgency in the voice of Jesus as he explains how they are to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). I am convinced that this band of brothers knew for certain that this call from Jesus was not optional. “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). These are the words of Jesus as he called his disciples to continue the work that he started. They understood the importance of finishing the work. As a matter of fact, they were willing to (and did) give their lives for this mission.
We have this same mission before us today. And even though many would say they understand that Jesus has given us this commission, few are willing to allow the directive of Jesus to alter their lives in any significant way. I suppose it is one thing to speak the words of acknowledgment regarding this mission, and altogether different to actually live out this mission. So why is it that so many Christians today see the call of Christ to his disciples and simply carry on with their routine of life? Why is it that so many fail to see the urgency in Jesus’ call for us to be his witnesses? Is it that we are so far removed from the events of the first century that we believe this no longer applies? Surely not. Could it be that we see this task as applying to the preacher and not to every disciple of Christ? Maybe to some degree. Is it possible that we as a society, as a people, have become so self-absorbed, so self-centered, that we just don’t have time for anything other than self-service?
As the people of God, we must open our eyes to the work that Christ has set before us. We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived. We must recognize the urgency in the words of Christ. We are called, as the disciples in the first century were called, to be his witnesses. We are called to promote the gospel in whatever setting, whatever circumstance we may be. This call was not simply given to a group of Christ-followers nearly 2,000 years ago. This call extends throughout the centuries. This call is our call. The mission before us is not confined to the past. The mission before us is simple and plain. Go make disciples!