CHRISTIAN NEWS MAGAZINE FOR KERALA MALAYALEE CHRISTIANS FROM INDIA AROUND THE WORLD
JANUARY 2007 DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE
VOL:6 ISSUE:01

THE GREAT COMMISSION
By JOSEPH MAR IRANEOS SAFFRAGAN METROPOLITAN
[Diocesan Metropolitan of Adoor-Thumpamon Diocese, Marthoma Syrian Church]




H.G. JOSEPH
MAR
IRANEOS

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." [Mark 16:15]

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." [Matthew 28:19-20]

Above referred words of our Lord Jesus Christ to his eleven apostles constitute the Church's "Great Commission". The Great Commission is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they transmit the gospel from age to age and nation to nation to the end of the world and to the end of ages. It has been a primary basis for Christian missionary activity. What is Gospel? The central figure of the Christian faith is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Though the word Gospel usually designates a written record of Christ's words and deeds, St. Mark opens the first Gospel written to the world with a declaration, as per the root language it means; 'Jesus Christ is the beginning of the Gospel'.

God created human as man and woman in his own image from the soil of the earth and are given His own breath of life. The nature equated with Satan or serpent deceived Eve and she shared the forbidden fruit with Adam and immediately they came to knowledge of shame for their own nakedness. The cause of the fall of human was disobedience to God. The nature of the sin was to disown the responsibility and to blame for the cause to others. When God questioned them, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the nature. It was a great fall of human from a state of innocent bliss in the presence of God to a state of sinful understanding. So the image of God in human was defiled and corrupted by the penetration of selfishness to the human mind.

But when the man comes back to salvation, he gets transfigured to own the responsibility and to dedicate self to obedience with out any question. Let me illustrate it with some instances in the Holy Scriptures. Nehemiah took the responsibility of the ruin of Jerusalem and prayed to God; "We have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned... and hence the people are suffering." His penitent confession of sin; not only Israel has sinned, but also I and my father’s house have sinned. Owning the sins of Israel was no great mortification to him, but he humbled himself and took the shame to himself in his confession.

Isaiah was a young man with great political hold in the kingdom of Uzziah and Hezekiah. We normally lament of corruption all around us, in church, in politics and every field of our life. Isaiah also lived in a similar situation. Immediately after the untimely death of King Uzziah, an young King was installed in his place. Isaiah was afraid that the new King goes behind the immature guidance of his young vicious and profane counselors and lead the nation to ruin and hence Isaiah prayed tearfully for the nation. Then he saw the God sitting upon His high and lifted up throne, which is above all other thrones. With the sight of God he confess; "I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips." One of the seraphim took a burning coal and touched mouth of Isaiah and made him clean by taking his iniquities and sins away. God was searching for a man; "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Once he was cleansed, his attitude changed and Isaiah replied to the call of God and told, "Here am I. Send me!" This is the experience of accepting our responsibility and humbling our self to the obedience to God. This is the inspiration to proclaim the Gospel. Once we accept our responsibility and dedicate ourself, God accepts us, and all our past iniquities will be forgotten. This is the marvel of Gospel.

The Gospel of Jesus makes impossible things possible. Angel Gabriel came to Nazareth, a city of Galilee to a virgin village girl Mary and told her; "Hail, you are highly favored and blessed among women". As she was espoused to a man whose name was Joseph and waiting for the marriage to be solemnized, it was a convenient time for her to accept this words gladly without any fear or doubt. Later when the Angel really exposed her about the commission she got bewildered, as it was impossible as per the worldly tradition and as per her worldly knowledge. So she exclaimed, "How this can happen?" But when the Angel told her; "For with God nothing shall be impossible", she had blindly believed and humbled herself and told; "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." God make impossible things to be possible. This is the power of Gospel.

Gospel gives exceptional courage to forgo circumstances. In the episode of Jesus feeding five thousand the young unknown boy was approached by Andrew and told him that Lord need your lunch bag. The boy gave his lunch to Jesus very willingly. He did not insist that he would give it only directly to Jesus. He would have been as hungry as the rest of the multitude. The only difference between him and them is that he had planned ahead for his need. He was willing to part with his lunch and give it to Jesus. He did not even have a great deal of food. But what he had, he was willing to give to Jesus. He was ready to forgo the control of the food he or his mother cared for his own future need. Virtually, he ran the risk of going hungry. He could do it courageously as he heard the Gospel from Jesus and believed in it blindly. If we relinquish control and entrust our self to Christ, admitting our own helplessness, we will find that He is the one who saves the helpless. God exposed them the abundance of his storage.

Another example of this great courage of Gospel is the miracle happened in the Mount Carmel. Elijah built an altar in the name of the Lord and commanded to all the people to fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice. There was no rain in the land for last four years. There was no water in the well. All rivers dried up, all brooks and streams dried up. So it was the little water they sparingly collected to wet their tongues. But the power of Gospel did not retract them to disobey the prophet and retain the water for their thirst. Without any afterthoughts they poured the water on the altar. The fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When they looked at the sea on the seventh time, a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man's hand. There was great rain across the land. They experienced the abundance of the grace of the living God.

With the power of Gospel a new world is possible. As per the promise of God a new earth and new sky will be formed. Miracles can happen by the courage of Gospel. It leads to peace, joy and abundance. Nothing is impossible by God. What is impossible by man is possible by God. Gospel asks for our humiliation to say, 'Me and my household had sinned against you." Also Gospel demands for our humbleness to say; "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."

[Extract from Sermon delivered at Maramon Convention 2006
Original in Malayalam : Translated by Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA]


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