A New Word Of Encouragement To The Global Church Before Pentecost
Amy Sutherland 4.22.22
Clear vision and knowing your assignment make all the difference when given a weighty commission, yet what is essential for completion especially for longer-term and far-reaching assignments is a passionate heart. It is the fire surrounded by purpose that causes one to blaze ahead to the finish line. In the life of every believer is the core mission statement named The Great Commission, and we were given the Holy Spirit to help us fulfill it. In the Gospel of Matthew the final words recorded by Jesus are the first introduction to this commission;“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed and made appointment with them. And when they saw Him, they fell down and worshiped Him; but some doubted. Jesus approached and, breaking the silence, said to them, All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be).” Matthew 28:16-20. In the Gospel of Mark we have a even more detailed account of the commission, “Later, Jesus appeared to the eleven [disciples] themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He called them to account for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen [from death]. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed [in Me] and has been baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]; but he who has not believed will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.” So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord was working with them and confirming the word by the signs that followed.]” Mark 16:14-20.
I believe if we are honest, many Christians leave the vision of The Great Commission up to Evangelists, their Pastors, other five-fold or even other leaders. They may wonder how can my life reach the world? Yet, truthfully, the vision to fulfill this command can seem overwhelming to anyone regardless of title. These leaders may be wondering the same, how do I lead others in reaching the world? In 2009 and 2010 I had the opportunity to spend six months in Africa, the first three months I was attending Iris Harvest School of Missions in Mozambique, serving with Heidi Baker’s ministry. I had so much anticipation in going to the school, I desired to go grow deeper in my relationship with the Lord, though also knowing the ministry operated in miracles, signs and wonders I could not help but dream about what I would experience! I did see healing, I did see miracles, but most experiences did not happen as I imagined – not bad, just different. The Lord spoke to me very clearly while I was there and one word that has marked me since was, “Amy, the greatest miracle is the miracle of the transformed heart”. Above Kingdom affairs and the supernatural life, He was setting things in order that are connected to the center of my calling. And really, this is for every believer, as the first commandment gives mention of this divine order, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being].” Deuteronomy 6:5. We need wholeness of heart to love well; to love God, then ourselves, our family, and our neighbors. Physical healing is beautiful, biblical and one hundred percent what the Lord longs to give us, but it does not usurp the healing of the heart. What good is a physical healing if the heart from which we live is unwhole? “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23. One of Mama Heidi’s main messages was “stopping for the one”; the simplicity of the Gospel is loving the one in front of you. I loved that the ministry was so free that it encouraged us to be missionaries wherever the Holy Spirit was leading us; from the homemaker to the business CEO and all in between we are the missionary in the field wherever the Lord has called us – inside the walls of the Church or outside, whether on foreign or domestic soil. While I had already held fast to this truth in my heart, it was liberating to be part of a ministry that empowered the Body in this way.
Before Jesus commissioned the disciples, He addressed their vision which was also connected to their hearts. Matthew pens some of the disciples doubted it was Jesus they were seeing, while Mark pens the disciples would give account (were rebuked) for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they did not believe those who had seen Jesus after He had risen from death. Unbelief is rooted in mistrust and is an issue of the heart, the eyes were the last senses to follow what their hearts were speaking. “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out fo the evil of his heart produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45. Before the disciples could be used as the first mouthpieces for the foundational building of His Church and the fulfilling of the commission, Jesus had to remind them who they were. These disciples knew the Scriptures, they had been with the Word Himself! Hundreds of years prior Wisdom wrote, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7, and so He dealt with the mind that was causing the seed of doubt. In Greek the word for disciple is mathētḗs, a learner, disciple, pupil and comes from math – “the mental effort to think something through”. HELPS word study defines mathēteúō, “disciple” – to disciple, i.e. helping someone to progressively learn the Word of God to become a matured, growing disciple (literally, “a learner,” a true Christ-follower); to train (develop) in the truths of Scripture and the lifestyle required, i.e. helping a believer learn to be a disciple of Christ in belief and practice.” Before the disciples could be commissioned into practice, they had to believe!
The Great Commission was given after the crucifixion and Jesus understood the disciples were grieving, brokenhearted, and were trying to make sense of the living history they had just been a part of. They had no grid except that Jesus had told them these things would transpire, they were literally experiencing earth shaking events that had never happened before (or since). How beautiful we see the compassion, truth, and reassurance of the Lord at work even in the questioning. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene after she returned to the tomb a second time and in her weeping, in her grief He came and said, “Woman, why are you crying? For whom are you looking?” and at the sound of her name “Mary!”, she turned and said, “Rabboni!” (John 20:13-16). Mary heard a name to Name recognition in her Beloved’s Voice, formed from her pure and intimate devotion. “The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27. Because Jesus defeated death and fulfilled the prophecy, He could now be seen as her Creator, “But now, this is what the Lord, your Creator says, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you [from captivity]; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” Isaiah 43:1.
As only Jesus can do, He watches over His Word to perform it, being the very fulfillment of the Spirit of Prophecy, He testifies of Himself again on the road to Emmaus on the same day of the resurrection in an appearance to two of His disciples. Concealing His identity, He first caused them to become still to acknowledge the condition of their hearts. “And then, that very day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing it, Jesus Himself came up and began walking with them. But their eyes were [miraculously] prevented from recognizing Him. Then Jesus asked them, “What are you discussing with one another as you walk along?” And they stood still, looking brokenhearted.” Luke 24:13-17. I love the demonstration of Scripture found in this passage that Jesus was revealing through His presence; “He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow].” Psalms 147:3,“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18, ““Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”” Psalms 46:10.
As the Lord continued to walk and talk with them, still concealed, He did for them what they could not do for themselves; He opened their minds to understand and process what had just happened. “And [Jesus] said to them, O foolish ones [sluggish in mind, dull of perception] and slow of heart to believe (adhere to and trust in and rely on) everything that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary and essentially fitting that the Christ (the Messiah) should suffer all these things before entering into His glory (His majesty and splendor)? Then beginning with Moses and [throughout] all the Prophets, He went on explaining and interpreting to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning and referring to Himself.” Luke 24:25-27. The Lord Jesus in His patience and kindness came where they were lacking – in their minds. Again in the Greek, a disciple derives its meaning from math, “mental effort to think something through,” and the circumstances and the evidence weren’t adding up yet for the disciples so Jesus provided the answers and helped them “solve the equation”. What happens next causes my heart to collapse in longing every time I read the passage. “Then they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as if He were going farther. But they urged Him [not to go on], saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening, and the day has just about ended.” So He went inside to stay with them. And it happened that as He reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were [suddenly] opened [by God] and they [clearly] recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was talking with us on the road and opening the Scriptures to us?”” Luke 24:28-32. A burning heart is the answer to life’s equation. You cannot give to someone else that which you do not have. Knowing and loving God, and loving others is the commission. This love reaches beyond death, and its flames cannot be quenched. Passion for God is the fuel needed to finish our race, but there is one more step in solving the equation…
There are many more accounts of the visitations of the Resurrected Christ to His disciples that affirmed the reality of His glorified body and revitalized their hearts in belief (John 20:30,31). However, there was one last command that Jesus gave before the disciples were to be released into their missions; they were to wait for the baptism and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. “Until the day when He ascended, after He through the Holy Spirit had instructed and commanded the apostles (special messengers) whom He had chosen. To them also He showed Himself alive after His passion (His suffering in the garden and on the cross) by [a series of] many convincing demonstrations [unquestionable evidences and infallible proofs], appearing to them during forty days and talking [to them] about the things of the kingdom of God. And while being in their company and eating with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised, Of which [He said] you have heard Me speak. [John 14:16, 26; 15:26.] For John baptized with water, but not many days from now you shall be baptized with (placed in, introduced into) the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:2-5
Once again in the Lord’s compassion and mercy He remembers the weakness of our frame and provides the fuel. We yield, we wait upon Him, and our strength is renewed. It is quite impossible to refuel a moving vehicle. The car must come to a complete stop with the engine shut off to safely refuel. As the disciples obeyed the instructions to wait in Jerusalem, 40 days later just as Jesus promised the Holy Spirit came. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place, and suddenly a sound came from heaven like a rushing violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. There appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were being distributed [among them], and they rested on each one of them [as each person received the Holy Spirit]. And they were all filled [that is, diffused throughout their being] with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (different languages), as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out [clearly and appropriately].” Acts 2:1-4. The number forty represents testing, growth, and completion. Jesus left the wilderness after forty days of testing and was filled with power, at forty weeks a baby is ready to be born, and we are familiar with the Israelites wandering for forty years and the unbelief in the promise that kept them in the cycle. I believe forty is a number of choice; we can wander in disbelief or wonder in holy awe. Today I pray as you read this that the Lord would restore childlike faith in your hearts, I pray you would come out of agreement with unbelief and cease wandering and begin to wonder at the signs of the Lord once more. I release healing to bind up any broken-heartedness, and I declare you are released from your captivity. I pray your purpose would be clear, and vision would be restored. I pray you would be still and know that He is God, and in the stillness allow Him to complete the work He has begun in you. I pray for a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit that would reignite first love. May your life be forever changed as you are renewed and refreshed to finish your race well. Gaze upon and behold the One in front of you, and cultivate devout affection for His Presence. We need the Holy Spirit to love Jesus, and it is He that enables to love the ones assigned around us and to us. Holy fire grip our hearts once more! Be blessed in your refueling and commissioning and may your burning heart set the world on fire!
“As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us. We look away from the natural realm and we focus our attention and expectation onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God! So consider carefully how Jesus faced such intense opposition from sinners who opposed their own souls, so that you won’t become worn down and cave in under life’s pressures.” Hebrews 12:1-3
“Fasten me upon your heart as a seal of fire forevermore. This living, consuming flame will seal you as my prisoner of love. My passion is stronger than the chains of death and the grave, all consuming as the very flashes of fire from the burning heart of God. Place this fierce, unrelenting fire over your entire being. Rivers of pain and persecution will never extinguish this flame. Endless floods will be unable to quench this raging fire that burns within you. Everything will be consumed. It will stop at nothing as you yield everything to this furious fire until it won’t even seem to you like a sacrifice anymore.” Song of Songs 8:6-7