SERMON NOTES FOR ORDINATION: The Great Commission, Sunday, 9 December 2018 Anno Domini, St. George Anglican Church (AOC), Ventura, California. (2nd Sunday in Advent)
The Gospel text today counsels His minister and indeed all Christian people to be watchful and ready. We are to keep our lights burning – and lights cannot be hidden from view. The oil of the Holy Ghost is necessary if our lamps will be burning brightly at His coming.
This is a double counsel to His ministers. The Christian must have the lamp of faith, and the oil of the Holy Ghost if our lamps can provide light; but there is also a requirement to provide a flame to light our lamps. This is the roll of the minister in his role as called and chosen of God to his Office.
We have received a Great Commission
Just before our Lord’s Ascension, He told the disciples: “16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Matt 28:16-20 (KJV)
A commission is granted by the highest national power of a nation. An officer in the military service is commissioned by the President. He acts with the authority of the President. Those in Holy Orders, as well as their charges, are commissioned by the Highest Authority – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to teach, preach, baptize and to lead the church to observe all things whatsoever He has commanded – even those things which the world may condone with vigor.
We are in a Great Army. An army arises early to the call of the bugler. It responds to the orders of the commander while it is day, and to the call of duty and honor. At last, if the battle of day has cooled, the army retires to the notes of that same bugler. It labors in fervent love and rests in honor.
Our Lord was never unreasonable in His demands and counsel:
But let us read the events of the Gospel of Matthew 8:1-4
1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
Matt 8:1-4 (KJV)
First note that Jesus TOUCHED a man infected with leprosy and covered with oozing sores – a man no one else would deign to touch. His touch was not only a touch of healing, but of love; and love overpowers every other emotion.
This man healed was a leper – could not go home, isolated, could not freely associate, was required to shout UNCLEAN when approaching others, wore filthy rags.
Secondly, note that Jesus said to the man after healing,
“See thou tell no man.” This was a command impossible of obedience!
HE WAS HEALED! How could he not explain to his family, friends and neighbors why he no longer was isolated from the general population and them; why he was healed, why he had consulted the priest?
Jesus gave this advice more than once.
In Mark 7, we are told of a man brought to Christ at Decapolis who was deaf and dumb.
32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak. Mark 7:32-37 (KJV)
Again, in Galilee, Jesus was called to the house of Jairus,rabbi of a local synagogue to heal his daughter; but the daughter of twelve had died when the Lord arrived. See the actions and Listen to the words of the Lord:
41 And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. 42 And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. 43 And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.
Mark 5:41-43 (KJV)
There are other occasions as well in which our Lord gave the same counsel – each of which was impossible to abide.
What is the Lord saying to us in such counsel?
If we have been miraculously healed of a deadly and debilitating disease, are we to keep the wonderful news a secret even if commanded to do so by the powers of heaven?
Think of poor Naaman. “1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
2 Kings 5:1 (KJV)
Sin is like leprosy in so many ways.
- It is a blood disease that is highly contagious
- It is insidious in its beginning.
- It gradually eats away at the body of its victim deforming the countenance as well as bodily function.
- It separates us from God and family.
- It emits a disturbing odor impossible to conceal.
- Finally, it kills completely.
If we are the children of God (and there are only two families on earth – the saved and the lost), we have all been healed of the deadly disease of moral leprosy.
How is it possible that we tell no man? How was it possible for the leper to keep his secret when commanded by Christ?
How was it possible to keep secret the resurrection to life of the daughter of Jairus whom all the multitude at his home had witnessed her death?
How is it possible for the Christian, and above all the ministers of God to keep silence in the face of such overwhelming love that has drawn us to Christ while, as we read in Ephesians 2, we were dead in trespasses and sins?
Can the morning bird cease her singing, or the Christian restrain his join at the Lord’s goodness?
We must cry aloud of all the goodness of the Lord.
I leave you with the strong counsel of the Lord uttered by the prophet Isaiah:
1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
Isaiah 58:1 (KJV)
In name of Fathers, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen