The Great Commission

Once upon a time, there was a clan of foxes who were incredibly lazy and extremely gluttonous. They didn't want to track or hunt their prey. They simply wanted to reach out and grab a meal whenever they fancied. One of the foxes got a brilliantly evil idea. "Let's cut our tails short and our ears thin and color our fur. Then we'll rub ourselves with rabbit fur so that we smell like rabbits. We'll be able to walk into any rabbit warren in the land and no one will ever know we are really foxes. We'll look and smell just like rabbits."

Because rabbit warrens are fairly dark, the plan worked. The foxes were able to gobble down rabbits left and right.

The king of the rabbits was smarter than most. He figured out what was going on, and so he sent his most trusted bunnies out to the various warrens to warn everyone of this danger.

One of the king's rabbits passed by a cabbage patch on his journey. He said to himself "the king wasn't speaking to me, specifically." He stopped to eat cabbage and did not complete his mission. The warren to which he had been sent did not receive his warning, and they were all eaten by the foxes.

Another reached the warren to which he had been sent. He delivered his warning, but none of the rabbits believed him. They, too, were eaten.

A third rabbit reached his goal and delivered his warning, and the rabbits believed him. They found out which of their number were actually foxes and collapsed a tunnel on their heads. Those rabbits then went to other warrens and carried the news of the foxes in disguise. Some warrens believed and lived. Some did not and were eaten.

When the king's servants returned, the third one, who had given his message to the warren which believed was rewarded with a room full of carrots.
The second one, who had not been believed, was also given a room full of carrots.
"I do not understand." said the rabbit. "I was not able to save anyone."
"But you did as I told you." said the king. "It is not your fault that no one believed."
Lastly came the one who had stopped to eat the cabbage. He expected a room full of carrots, too.
"How dare you expect a reward?" squealed the king, angrily. "You did not do as you were told, and because you did not, many rabbits died!"
The servant was sore afraid, but the king was merciful. Instead of killing the unfaithful servant, he gave that servant a job burying dung pellets.

Our number one job is not at all different from that of the rabbit king's servants. In this world, there are many who are in danger of a fate far worse than death. They are in danger of eternal damnation. Jesus therefore gave us, His followers, the task of spreading the gospel to all who will hear.

So exactly who has this job?
One could argue that in Mark 16:15, Jesus is only speaking to His eleven apostles. But hang about a sec. In 1 Timothy 4:5, Paul says "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." Timothy was not an apostle. Ah, but he was a pastor, wasn't he?

Remember the first of the king's rabbits. This illustrates an important point from Ezekiel 33.

8 When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.
9 But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.

If someone sees trouble coming and does not give warning, he is responsible for the blood of those who are in peril. Who then is responsible to deliver the warning? Everyone who knows about it.

Personally, when the last judgement is goin on, I don't want to look into the eyes of my unsaved friends and have them ask "why didn't you tell me?"

Who are we supposed to take this gospel to? Mark 16:15 says it pretty clearly. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."

Obviously, the term "creature" isn't literal. Your average dog not only isn't going to be able to understand the gospel, but being unable to sin and therefore innocent, isn't in peril of damnation anyway. So we can take this to mean that we need to take the gospel message to everyone in need of salvation, which, to our knowledge, includes the human race and all of its variants.

When are we supposed to share the gospel? Actually, Mark 16:15 is pretty clear on that, too. At least in the original Greek. In the King James, the verse reads "go ye". In the Greek, it reads "as you are going". Jesus did not require anyone to go out of their way to seek out the lost, although that is certainly the duty of some. Jesus' command was to share the gospel with those who are already around us.
We don't need to make a big production. All we have to do is share the gospel when the opportunity arises.

How are we to do so?
I'm reminded of a song by Michael W. Smith. "Seed to sow" is the title, and in it, he sings about how each of us has a different way to share the gospel. "some people sing it to express while others hear another call. Some people speak with subtleness, some don't rely on words at all." We all have a different style of sharing the good news of Christ. About the only steadfast rule about HOW we share the gospel is that we should obey the Holy Spirit's leading and exercise some sensitivity. It is good to discharge our duty of witnessing. It is far, far better when the act leads a person to a saving Knowledge of Christ. We should always keep this in mind and make every effort to make Christ palatable to them. Of course, the best way to make Christ palatable to people is to live the Christian life like you mean it.

My challenge to you this week is to pray that God would give you an opportunity to share the gospel with the unsaved, AND to live your life in such a way that others see Jesus living in you and desire what you have.

Pastor Oren Otter
August 13, 2005