“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” — Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit are with you all. It is an honor for me to write this reflection to all of you. It is a privilege as a pastor to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel with the authority that our Lord Jesus Christ has given me.
Transfiguration Church does not have a physical and permanent building right now. My new journey is to go where Jesus is sending me to be a companion to His people who do not have a voice in our society. We lost our worship location in the funeral chapel during the season of Lent. Since then, we have been worshiping in different cities and towns in northern Texas.
At the moment, my job is to reveal the command that Jesus is giving me, and the commitment that I am making. Looking at the Gospel, I find my answer.
First: He is sending me out to all people everywhere to make them disciples.
Second: I am to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Third: I am to teach them to obey the Word and everything He has commanded me.
Fourth: I am to proclaim salvation — that He has promised to be with you and me always, to the end of the age.
A. Go make disciples: The Great Commission is a big challenge for many Christians in today’s society to fulfill. We are so busy everyday. We often don’t have time to share the Gospel with our own family or our neighborhoods. We have become slaves to work and technology. We seek more material stability for our families than we seek after the commandment of God to visit people and make them disciples for Him. Many congregations want to make disciples, but they don’t go out to share the Word of God. Many congregations and leaders have great mission and vision statements, but nothing happens because they don’t know their neighbors. They have the tools from the Bible, but they don’t use them.
Sacramental community requires complete involvement with the neighbor. When we bring people and worship to Jesus, we build the Church, and as a gift we become part of His Body and His Church. The sacramental community is one that worships inside and outside the temple. Jesus, in His ministry, visited all the towns and villages. He proclaimed the Good News under the tress, around the river, desert, streets, plazas and in synagogues. He proclaimed the Gospel a few times in the temple. Jesus gave us a great commandment — to go out to make disciples for Him.
Many churches are dying for three reasons. One, they are so comfortable inside the temple. The second reason is they want the people to come to them and become disciples. Third, because they are too poor to buy or rent a church, like us.
Jesus is sending us to go into towns and villages to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. He sends us with the perfect tools, the Bible, the authority of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He is not sending us alone; we have the Holy Trinity power over us to do the job.
B. Baptize, in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit to build the sacramental community. Through Baptism, we become the people of God. “See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God’s children — and so, in fact, we are” (1 John 3:1 GNT).
Through Baptism, St. Paul in Galatians 3:26-27 said, “It is through faith that all of you are God’s children in union with Christ Jesus. You were baptized into union with Christ” (GNT).
In Romans 6:4, St. Paul said, “By our baptism, then, we were buried with him and shared his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from death by the glorious power of the Father, so also we might live a new life” (GNT).
My brothers and sisters, any child or adult who is baptizing around the world is part of this community and part of the Body of Christ. We should take responsibility to care for and protect them as our brother or sister in Christ Jesus.
We have many brothers and sisters who do not speak English. They live in Latin America, in Europe, in Africa, in Asia. We need to suffer for all those who are baptized in Christ Jesus and are dying in Syria, in Palestine and in many other countries.
We have the authority of the Bible and the power of the Holy Trinity to speak out. We have the command to defend the poor, the oppressed, the immigrant and those who pray to God for justice and peace. Through our Baptism, we become witnesses of Jesus and our witness of Jesus is to be willing to die for Him.
C. Teach them to obey everything He has commanded you is a discipleship commitment. Teach the Gospel, demand physical and spiritual transformation.
Ephesians 4:23 says, “Your hearts and minds must be made completely new” (GNT).
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are the chosen race, the King’s priests, the holy nation, God’s own people, chosen to proclaim the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his own marvelous light” (GNT).
Teach and obey the Word of God is a call to renewal. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Do not be surprised because I tell you that you must all be born again” (John 3:7 GNT). We are to teach others to live life in the light of the Gospel.
Ephesians 5:8, “You yourselves used to be in the darkness, but since you have become the Lord’s people, you are in the light. So you must live like people who belong to the light” (GNT).
D. Gratitude. I am happy to be born again and to be able to teach others to live in the light of the Gospel as part of any Baptism, wedding, quinceañera, mission trip, funeral and worship service that I celebrate with different people each weekend.
Special thanks to Grace Lutheran Church in Eaton, Ohio; Holy Ghost Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg, Texas; Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Tyler, Texas; and Elsie E. Burkle from Eaton Ohio, for their financial and prayer support for the global ministry of Transfiguration Lutheran Mission Church.
Pastor Pedro Portillo serves Iglesia Luterana La Transfiguración. For additional information or to partner with them in ministry, please visit thenalc.org/partners/iglesia-luterana-latransfiguracion-irving.