The Great Commission then is only understood in the context of the church, for it is the church who mobilizes missions, making disciples, administering the sacraments, teaching the Word, and enjoying Christ’s on-going presence in our very existence. Therefore, do not heed those who would lead you to see the lost as your adversary, and do not run from the Great Commission by retreating into your holy huddle. Through the church we are to live out the Great Commission. The world is before us, so let us be going, making, sealing, and teaching, as we are ultimately one body worshiping one Lord who is with us always, to the end of the age.
The bulk of Paul’s first epistle, chapter after chapter, deals with the problems of a dysfunctional church. And then, once he seemingly addressed every issue, he does something that may seem elementary: He preaches the gospel. Actually, to be precise, he reminds them of it. They have heard it before, but, like every church, they need it again.
In what could be considered an unveiled description of the preparation and presence of the high priest behind the veil, we find that in Christ we now have access to the Holy of Holies, which for all who are in Christ is “the new and living way.” We find that Christ’s body was indeed the veil, pierced for our transgressions, and severed that we might draw near to God, not cowering in fear but “with a true heart in full assurance of faith,” crying “Abba! Father!” as children, indeed “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17). God himself is unveiled to us!
The cross of Christ is a foreign concept to the world, meaningless except in its finality, or perhaps curious in its novelty. Jesus of Nazareth died upon a cross. But if the one who died was also the Christ, the Anointed One, in fact the Son of God, then the Roman instrument of suffering and shame became the cross of Christ, an atoning altar for sin. Upon the cross, Jesus died a sinner’s death yet committed no sin. The purpose of his death was not his sin but yours: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
The irony of Jesus’ trial before Pilate is that Jesus, who is Truth, tells the truth, and Pilate can’t deny it. John records that when Pilate asks him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”, Jesus responds characteristically, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” (John 18:33-34). Were it not a matter of life or death, it’s almost comical. He already knows and understands the accusation, but does Pilate?
Three times Peter denied his Lord, and three times the Lord reminded him of his love for the Lord. In Christ our identity rests not on our multitude of moral failures but upon the steadfast love and faithfulness of God in the finished work of our risen Lord. The rooster’s crow of our conviction is a divine mercy, revealing to us our sin, leading us to repentance, and restoring us to a right confession. So may our confession always be: “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
The purpose of a testimony is to tell the truth, and Jesus tells it. And they hate it. They hate him. Ripping their clothes, they rage at his supposed blasphemy. And yet, false testimony and mendacious rhetoric is not transformed into truth by showmanship and shouting. You can’t shout the truth into existence, but you can convince those who hear what they want to hear. The verdict is unanimous: “He deserves death.”
Therefore, there is no room for boasting with bravado of what we will do for Christ. Or, as Paul put it, “If I must boast, I will boast of things that show my weakness” (2 Cor. 11:30). The Christian life is not lived by boasting in what you will do for Christ but in what he has done for us. It is not a life of bravado but of submission. As we learn that God’s grace is indeed sufficient and that his power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9), we too will learn to pray as our Lord did, and as he taught us to pray, “Thy will be done”!
But know this, although Jesus’ last Passover became for us the Lord’s Supper, there will come a day when we will enjoy this meal of bread and wine in the physical presence of the Lord in our “Father’s kingdom.” Through the sacrifice of Christ’s body upon the cross, through his shed blood for our sins, by God’s grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, we will feast together at “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9).
What the woman did was a beautiful thing, as is what we do for Christ’s sake through faith and love. When the woman entered that house in Bethany, she had focus and purpose. She had come to worship and honor the Lord. May the same be said of us.