Sent to a People Beyond Ourselves
“In his book If I Should Die Before I Live, Joe LoMusio writes, “If I were to ask you to describe Easter without using any words, you could only use punctuation marks, which punctuation mark would you choose to describe this Easter for yourself?” He goes on to say how some might view Easter as a comma – “it makes you stop, pause, think and listen,” but that’s all it does for you. Others might view Easter as “a big bold period.” That is, “You thought you’d feel excited” about it, but Easter felt empty again. LoMusio then describes Jesus’ first disciples and how they moved from a period (Jesus was dead and buried, ending all their expectations) to a question mark (with the news of the empty tomb) and finally to “one massive exclamation point!” (as they beheld him with their own eyes).”[i]
Sean O’Donnell, in his commentary, then writes, ‘Indeed the resurrection is one massive exclamation point. But it’s also four immense arrows. I know that arrows aren’t punctation marks, but they are on my computer keyboard, so that counts for something. What he means is that the resurrection is an arrow that points upward to Jesus’ “universal power” and downward to Jesus’ “ecclesial presence”. It is also an arrow that points “inward – calling for worshipful allegiance” to the resurrected Christ. But also, it is an arrow that point “outward – commissioning Jesus’ disciples to move out in order to bring others in.”[ii]
As we continue in our theme, “Beyond Ourselves,” we will look at the Great Commission Jesus gives to his church in Matthew 28:16-20. Our focus this Lord’s Day is the mission for which Jesus has called us. Indeed, he has sent us to a people beyond ourselves. What does this mean? What will this require? How can we accomplish this work he has called us to? Let’s talk about it this Sunday.
As you prepare to join us in worship let me encourage you to continue to look upward (in faith and trust) because Jesus has promised to work downward – to help from above. He will give us the courage. He will give us the wisdom. He will give us the harvest. He will give us the strength:
Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed;
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help, thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.[iii]
Fittingly, then, I conclude with the words of O’Donnell: ‘Jesus’ ‘first-person-pronoun assurances” – “I have all authority, and I am with you always” – enables us to keep his “second-person-pronoun commands”: you go, you make disciples, you baptize, and you teach.[iv] Take heart, my friend.
[i] Illustration from Douglas Sean O’Donnell, ‘Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and Earth,’ Preaching the Word (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 905.
[ii] Ibid, 905.
[iii] John Rippon, “How Firm a Foundation”
[iv] O’Donnell, 1038.