Mark 12:28-32; Matthew 28:16-20
Friday, May 2, 2014
Keeping on course, keeping on doing what Jesus did
The officer of the watch is responsible for keeping the ship on course and the watch carrying out all that the watch should be doing
PEOPLE’S LAST WORDS and final speeches are charged with special significance, perhaps because they can be a distillation of what has gone before. Without depreciating any event or teaching of Jesus in any way, there is
• a teaching
• a command and
• a promise
that are each recorded towards the end of the gospels that have that sense of distillation.
Jesus’ final instruction before His ascension to heaven was essentially that the disciples should teach others to live out what He had taught them to live out. And so, as they stood there, alone, they must have been quite overwhelmed – with responsibility, but also with the need for clear recollection. Where do we start? What are the absolutely main things?
One ‘main thing’ came out of the discussion with one of the teachers of the law who, it seems, had a genuine question – one which rabbis and others regularly debated (Mark 12:28–32). He asked Jesus which was the most important of the commandments. The answer was very simple: Love the Lord your God with all that you have, and love those around you. The later discourse with the Twelve in the context of the Last Supper, recorded in John 14, 15, 16 and 16, could be taken as an amplification, or a commentary, on this simple but profound headline statement.
Today we call it the Great Commandment principle – great because it is like the main peg on which everything else hangs. Think of any other thread of Jesus’ teaching over His three years of public ministry, and it leads back to here. Any incident in Jesus’ life, and this is its context.
However, Jesus did also leave the Eleven with an action on their agenda, to sign up more apprentices. The Great Commandment essentially describes an attitude – love God, love others. With the attitude goes an action – get others investing their lives in this. Make disciples!
Matt. 28:16–20 NASB
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to OBSERVE all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The ‘observe’ word, tereo, which is present continuous tense, has a more literal meaning of “keep” or even “keep on keeping” what the Master had done. The meaning is that of keeping on course – exactly what a ship’s officer of the teros, or watch, is responsible for – maintaining speed and heading, with the watchful look-out that Titanic tragically lacked.
As we coming to the Scriptures with our little bit of religious spirit, from our heritage and reinforced by years of schooling, we are content with a translation that says ‘obey’. This sells it short. Jesus wanted them – and He wants us – to go on doing, carrying out, what He taught and demonstrated.
And He left us the teaching, the command, and the empowering which all contribute towards that same end. Our call is to be empowered believers who, held by an understanding of God’s love for them, return that love to Him and overflow that love to others. We do this as those empowered by the same Holy Spirit power which caused the Resurrection, keeping on doing the works, signs and wonders of Jesus and every way of being a blessing to others and helping to bring God’s kingdom order to a messed up earth.
A tall order? We have a big God – and we’re in this together, each playing their part.