Published April 3, 2018

Paul's Epistle
"Go And Tell"

This Easter, for some reason, one particular part of the Resurrection narrative jumped out at me in a new and compelling way.

In Matthew's account, when the women reached Jesus' tomb early in the morning, an angel told them, "Do not be afraid... He is not here, for He is risen, as He said... Go quickly and tell his disciples...." (Matt. 28:5-7).

"Go and tell..." "Go and tell..." It seems to me, as we have so recently considered what happened on that first Resurrection Day, those angelic instructions are for us, too.

A Christian life is a life of testimony, or at least it should be. Jesus Himself used the "go and tell" phrase (in so many words) many times. When John the Baptist's disciples asked Jesus if He, indeed, were the Messiah, Jesus told them, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised..." (Luke 7:22).

And frequently Jesus told those He healed to testify. After Jesus cast several demons out of a man, the man wanted to go with Jesus. But the Lord told him, "Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you" (Luke 8:39).

Isn't that exactly what we should be doing? Shouldn't we be telling everyone "what great things God has done for you?"

Soon after the angel told the women to "go...tell His disciples..." the Lord met them in Galilee and made things very clear: "Go...and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." (Matt. 28:19-20a).

There we have what has come to be known as the Great Commission. And, no, it wasn't just for the Lord's first disciples. By extension, it is for us, too. It is for all believers. For you. For me.

Unfortunately, even in the church the Great Commission has been downplayed in recent years. A new study by the Barna Group of churchgoers produced some troubling findings. The report said this: "When asked if they had previously ‘heard of the Great Commission,' half of U. S. churchgoers (51 percent) say they do not know this term. It would be reassuring to assume that the other half who know the term are also actually familiar with the passage known by this name, but that proportion is low (17 percent). Meanwhile, ‘the Great Commission' does ring a bell for one in four (25 percent), though they can't remember what it is."

As in so many matters of faith these days, Barna found a generational divide. "More than one-quarter of Elders (29 percent) and Boomers (26 percent) know [the Lord's Great Commission], compared to 17 percent of ‘Gen X' and [only] one in ten Millennials (10 percent)."

Barna's unfortunate conclusion is that this "may reveal a lack of prioritizing or focusing on the work of the Great Commission..."

Where, why and when did the church begin disregarding its primary role in this world — that of "going and telling" others about the Lord? Why do Christians not fulfill the role of being the "salt" and "light" of the earth? (See Matt. 5:13-16). Yes, we are to love our neighbors and do good things for them. But it should be in the context of telling them about the Lord and serving as witnesses to Him. That, after all, is sharing with them an eternal love.

Here's how a recent song from 11th Hour called "He's Alive And So Am I" says it:

     "Now you know that He is risen, so quickly go and tell
      That He's coming back some day for you and me.
      So run and tell the good news that the Lord's alive and well.
      We must share the evidence we've seen.
      So shout it from the mountains and let the joy bells ring.
      Deliverance has come through Jesus Christ.
      Since Jesus lives within me, oh, death, where is your sting?
      Because He's alive, so am I."*

Who can you tell today?  Better yet, who will you tell today?

- Paul Heil

*Lyrics from the chorus of "He's Alive And So Am I," sung by 11th Hour on their "What A Moment" CD. Written by Regina Walden, Asheville Music Publishing, Chris White Music, BMI.

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