Big Idea: Jesus the King sends us out to bring people in.
Key Verse: Matthew 28:19
Matthew 28 is the triumphant conclusion of the story of Jesus’ earthly life. He came to bring in the Kingdom, but was rejected by the very people He came to liberate. While He healed the sick, raised the dead and cast out demons, the people failed to recognize Him. Jesus came to be the Messiah, the Christ, of Israel, but they (with the Roman government’s consent) gave Him a crown of thorns and a mocking title on a cross. Rejected by the religious and secular elites, Jesus then hung on a cross and cried out about being forsaken by God Himself. Bearing the sins of the world, Jesus died alone.
But on the third day, everything changed. Death could not hold the One who invented life, and He rose to life again. The angel rolled away the stone so that people could see He had risen, and their faith did not rest on a philosophical theory, but a historical event: the day that Jesus rose again. Rising again, He reclaimed all of the glory He had temporarily laid aside for His ministry and reclaimed His eternal Kingdom. No longer did He tell His disciples to go to the nation of Israel alone, but He announced that all authority in Heaven and Earth was His - and as the rightful King, His people were to take the good news of His Kingdom to the world.
Their old master of sin was defeated, because all of their sins were forgiven by the perfect sacrifice. Their old master of death was dead, because Jesus Himself made the path to life. Their old masters of sorrow, fear and pain were swallowed up by hope. The old slave drivers have passed away: a new King has come, and He is (in the words of the Jesus Storybook Bible) making all the sad things come untrue. He did not come with swords or armies, but simply with Himself. His Kingdom is not expanded by force, but by faith. Faith in His finished work and perfect life is the good news that we must accept, and our mission is to take that message out to the people who are still in chains, that they can come into God’s family. We take that message to them, let them publicly identify as Jesus’ servants through baptism, and teach them how to live the way He taught. But it all begins with going to those outside and bringing them in.
Discussion idea: Have you ever been lonely and had someone reach out to you? What did that feel like? Have you ever reached out to someone who was by themselves? What makes us do that, or not do that?
Prayer focus: Pray for a specific person who needs to be saved, or for a saved person who needs the encouragement to continue walking with God. Write their initials on a small piece of paper or a sticky note to be reminded to pray for them for the next week.