Jesus’ work is complete; it is time to return to his Father. In any going away party there is usually the reflections on the good times shared in the past, as well as the promise to stay in touch moving forward. But often, we realize that the relationship will not be the same. It will be difficult to keep the relationship at the same level when we may not see each other for some time. It is this dynamic that Jesus is so aware of in this climactic moment of his public ministry. But his plan for the future of his disciples is not for diminishment, rather it is for a deepening of their relationship. How?
The Great Commission to go and baptize the nations is as much for the ones who will be baptized as it is for the eleven. The way in which the disciples will continue to remain in and united to Christ is by the simple act of doing what he did – sharing the Good News. The command to baptize therefore is the manner in which Christ really doesn’t leave at all. In fact, his mission is carried out by this new understanding of the Body of Christ: believers who follow all that Jesus taught and share that with others allowing the body to grow. Signs of growth in the body (the baptism of new members) is the ongoing verification that Christ’s Spirit is alive and well – his power is being put to good use.
How much are we open to following Jesus last command before he left this earth? I think we too often see it as a nice encouragement for someone else to follow. Maybe we can’t focus so much on baptizing the unbaptized, but how about helping the already baptized to live into their faith by sharing our own with them? After all, if I am not comfortable talking about my relationship with Jesus to someone who is a Christian, how will I ever be able to do it with someone who isn’t. Gotta start somewhere! I say, start by being part of a small faith group. It gives the tools and the courage to realize that I can’t do this great commission on my own – I need the help of others. Try it!
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