Reading Matthew 28:16-20
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Over the last few months we have been on a journey, in our everyday lives as well as in church. One thing we have all come to know is that we do not know what tomorrow will bring. I spoke last week about preparing before setting off on a journey and I want to begin this morning by telling you a story about a person who had not prepared for her journey. One day while walking with some children, Queen Mary was caught in a sudden shower. Quickly taking shelter on the porch of a home, she knocked at the door and asked to borrow an umbrella. “I’ll send it back tomorrow,” she said. The queen had deliberately disguised her appearance by putting on a hat that partly covered her face and by wearing some very plain clothes.
The homeowner, reluctant to give a stranger her best umbrella, offered her a castoff she found in the attic.
One rib was broken and there were several holes in it. Apologizing, she turned it over to the monarch,
whom she did not recognize. The next day she had another visitor a man with gold braid on his uniform
and an envelope in his hand. “The queen sent me with this letter,” he said, “and also asked me to thank you personally for the loan of your umbrella.” Stunned, the woman burst into tears. “Oh, what an opportunity I missed that did not give my very best,” she cried. The journey of being a disciple often gives us an opportunity to give our best, but truth be told we can miss that opportunity just as the lady in our story. Throughout Scripture, in the Old and New Testaments we read of people who give their all in service to God. Daniel, dragged from home as a young man remains faithful in spite of all that is thrown his way.
Esther, made a stand before the king on behalf of her people. John, preparing a way with a message of repentance. Priscilla and Aquilla, husband and wife working behind the scenes. Very different people from different times in history. Faced with very different situations the common thread of trusting in God
ties their stories together. All of them speak to us of being on a journey. Each of them are very different characters although their sense of call, their commitment to faith somewhat overlaps. And it overlaps with our journeys as well. The wording of our reading this morning leaves us in no doubt we are to embark upon a journey, with phrases such as, ‘therefore go’, and, ‘of all nations’ then finally, ‘I am with you always’. The main job Jesus left us to do was to make disciples. There is a suggestion that this will not happen in an instant, ‘to the very end of the age’. Of course a journey does not always need to be a tedious chore that is dull and boring. There are times in life when laughter is the order of the day. A Russian comedian, Yakov Smirnoff talks about when he first moved to America, he was amazed at the variety of instant products he could buy in the store. There’s powdered milk: just add water and you have milk. There’s powdered orange juice: just add water and you have orange juice. Then he saw Baby Powder and thought, “What a great country! If you want a baby, just add water!” When Jesus was getting ever closer to the cross people who wanted to see a miracle or get a free meal from Him were crowding Him.
He started setting forth the cost of discipleship and soon the crowd becomes much smaller. We, each of us, have to live our own lives of that there can be no doubt. But in living that life, decisions have to be made. As I said last week there are questions to be asked along the way. Some carry great weight and others are centred on more basic everyday issues. There comes a time when we must choose. For the choice we make has a direct link to salvation. As long as we think we are strong enough to save ourselves, we don’t see the need to surrender to Jesus. I do not mean this in any negative way. In fact, I believe it is the most positive thing we could do in our lives. From that moment on we begin our journey of discipleship, we play our part in passing on the stories, the traditions, and we add our names to the ever increasing role call. I want to close with a story that I hope will put a smile on our faces, even if in church we cannot see them under our face coverings, God will see. A pig and a hen were sharing the same farmyard and they heard about a church’s program to feed the hungry. The pig and the hen discussed how they could help. The hen said, “I’ve got it! We’ll provide bacon and eggs for the church to feed the hungry.” The pig thought about the suggestion and said, “There’s only thing wrong with your bacon and eggs idea. For you, it only requires a contribution, but from me, it will mean total commitment!” And this is where the serious side of discipleship comes into play.
That’s the cost of discipleship we sign up to.