[Below are the opening remarks to the commissioning service we had for Scott and Kristin Morter, being sent from our church to be on-mission to Ireland. You can listen the sermon and commissioning in its entirety here.]
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld” (John 20:19-23 ESV).
One of the first things that we must realize at a time like this, and specifically at a service like this, is that Scott and Kristen are not the heroes here, Jesus is the hero and the point of this service. The risk whenever we have a service that’s like a Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, or even a missions emphasis, moms or dads or America or missionaries are never to be the hero of a worship service—Jesus is.
After Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples, he appeared before them even though the door was locked. The disciples locked themselves in a room out of fear. Fear of what? They were associated with Jesus, which made them Public Enemies No. 1. But Jesus told them, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And he gave them the Holy Spirit who would empower them.
In Ireland recently, they have overturned every bit of legislation that protects the unborn child, and have embraced same-sex marriage—both of which go against God’s design for life and marriage/family. Christians and missionaries both in Ireland and those hoping to go to Ireland are now considered personas non grata. The message of evangelical Christians and missionaries was rejected by the government. But this is nothing new–not only the message, but the Messenger was rejected by the government of Biblical times, but that did not stop anything, did it? Why?
You see, everyone of us are sent to our “Ireland.” As God sent Jesus on a mission into enemy territory, so He has sent us to a people whose thinkng and living are against the things of Jesus. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, remember it hated me first” (John 15:18). He also said, “In this world, you will have trouble….” Where did we get the notion that Christianity is easy, trouble-free, and that we will be will be loved by everyone, everywhere. And that anything different means something is wrong.
But this is part and parcel for those who are sold out to Jesus. And this may be the reason why some fear being sold out to Jesus just as much as being unliked or unloved by the world.
Jesus is the hero because He eradicates our anxiety. “Peace be with you”—for they were afraid. He showed them his hands and his side to show them that, yes, he is alive physically. “Peace be with you” and He sent them the Holy Spirit to empower, to be an instrument by which forgiveness can be attained. So, by the power of the Spirit and by the realization of Christ’s death and resurrection for our sins and the victory this secured.He’s alive and by the Spirit we are not only not alone but have that power.
This Commissioning service is a reminder that God is still in the saving, sanctifying, and sending business. Jesus was sent. Jesus sends us!