“Red Letter Challenge: GOING” – Acts 1:8
Pentecost 2 – June 23, 2019
Introduction: Red Letter Challenge – the final topic
Today we come to the end of the Red Letter Challenge… or is it the beginning? We’ve dealt
with 4 topics that Jesus talked about in the red letters of His conversations and teachings in the
Gospels: BEING, FORGIVING, SERVING, GIVING. The final topic today is GOING. Jesus
talked a lot about GOING, about being sent. St. Paul called it being ambassadors of Christ to the
world in which we live. That’s why I’m saying this may more properly be called the beginning
rather than the end. This is the beginning of being Jesus’ FORGIVING, SERVING, GIVING
presence in our world. We want to tell people about this awesome God and Saviour that we have.
1. Excited about…
But first, let me tell you a story, something that I’m excited about. About 5 or 6 years ago, I
woke up one morning and had a sore neck. I thought I had just slept on it in a funny way, but the
soreness continued for a few weeks. I had my regular check-up with my doctor and told him
about it. He sent me for x-rays, and determined that there was some arthritis there. At about the
same time, I was reflecting on my pillow. I had generally used a pretty solid feather pillow from
one of my grandmothers. But I also tried an Obus Form pillow. I found that I needed to bunch it
up in the corner to get support for my head when I slept on my side. I actually thought about
designing and “building” my own pillow somehow. Then I went online and found this one – the
Therapeutica pillow from Dr. Pillow in Ontario. It looked much the same as the one that I
intended to design for myself. You can see that it is suitable for people that sleep on their back or
on either side. I bought it sight unseen, and I have had such good sleeps on it, and my neck
hasn’t been sore since. I have told people about it, showed it to people who have visited at our
Why am I bringing this up and spending 2 minutes of your life talking about my pillow?
Because I’m excited about my pillow. It’s awesome. It has really improved my sleep. It has
made a difference in my life. I don’t know if any of you will go out and buy a Therapeutica
pillow. I feel like I could be a Therapeutica pillow salesman when I retire. I’m definitely a
satisfied customer. I might develop a more aggressive sales pitch if I had shares in the company!
2. What a difference you’ve made in my life!
When something impacts your life in a positive way, you generally tell others about it. Whether
it’s a pillow, comfortable clothes, new vitamins, a great restaurant, a new speedy commute route,
or a dynamite new diet complete with cookbook. You’re excited… you tell.
Some of you will remember B. J. Thomas, famous pop singer of the late 60’s and early 70’s. A
couple of his well-known songs were “Hooked on a Feeling” and “Raindrops Keep Falling on
my Head.” After his fame led him to explore drugs and alcohol, in 1975 he became a Christian,
which saved his marriage, and he began a secondary career in Christian music, including the
single “What a Difference You Made in my Life.” Something, someone – Jesus – had changed
his life and Thomas was compelled from within to make that Saviour the content of his songs
and his career.
Jesus has changed your life, too! You may not have explored drugs and alcohol, you may not
have dabbled in crime, you may not be an obnoxious, annoying, you know what. But when you
meet Jesus, when you place your trust in Jesus, He begins to take over and change your life… for
the better. In their song, BLSQD, Michael Bridges and George Baum from the duo Lost and
Found sing about the tension in which we live as Christians, but they also describe the change
that Jesus makes in our lives. Some of the lyrics talk about:
So sick and yet so cured
So dirty yet so clean
So lost and yet so found
So dead so risen from the grave
So indebted so redeemed.
Although these distinctions underline the truth that Martin Luther spoke of – that we are sinners
and saints at the same time – they do highlight the significance of our new identity: cured, clean,
found, risen, redeemed.
Are you excited about that? Do you tell anyone what you’ve been in the past and who you are
3. The Great Commission – Jesus’ last words!
That’s the last of the five principles of Jesus’ red letter words that we want to focus on today.
GOING and TELLING were among the significant topics that Jesus spoke about. In fact, they
are perhaps His last words before ascending into heaven as recorded in each of the Gospels and
in Acts. Here they are:
Matthew 28 – “Go and make disciples of all nations…”
Mark 16 – “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
Luke 24 – “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed… to all nations… You are
witnesses of these things.”
John 20 – “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
Acts 1 – “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of
No matter where we find it, we call it Jesus’ Great Commission. He commissioned the disciples
and sent them to the world on a mission to bring the good news of God’s salvation to people
whose lives are sick, dirty, lost, dead and indebted (as Bridges and Baum sang in their song).
Jesus was their rabbi, their teacher. A rabbi of that time would bless their students, their disciples
with these words: “May you be covered by the dust of your rabbi.” In other words, may you
follow your rabbi so closely that when his feet kick up dust, it covers you. We are the disciples
of Jesus in our time and place, and we want the dust kicked up by His feet to cover us. That
means that the Great Commission is ours. It is our mission to introduce people to Jesus the
Saviour – our co-workers, those who live across the street, family members who don’t believe,
friends that we socialize with. If we are going to “hear the words of Jesus and put them into
practice” as we heard in the first sermon in this series, then going and telling will be part and
parcel of how we put Jesus’ words into practice.
For about 90% of people this last principle of GOING is the toughest. Three weeks ago we
talked about being God’s hands and feet as we serve others. Last week we talked about giving
God our hearts, which includes our money and that if we are truly a Jesus follower we are
generous. Jesus said where your treasure is, there your heart is. So now that we’ve given God
our hands and feet, now that we’ve essentially given Him our heart, now we give him our mouth.
4. “Preach Jesus, and if necessary use words.”
“Preach Jesus, and if necessary use words.” That sentence has been attributed to St. Francis of
Assisi. But it has been used incorrectly. People use it to say that our actions matter. It’s similar to
the phrase, “actions speak louder than words.” It’s almost like service and being God’s hands
and feet are superior than actually proclaiming the Gospel and using your mouth. Actions may
be visible, but in both of those phrases, words clarify what message those actions are speaking.
In fact, that is exactly what the disciple Peter says in 1 Peter 4:11: “If anyone speaks, they should
do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the
strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”
And a chapter earlier he wrote, “Honour Christ the Lord… Always be prepared to give a reason
for the hope that is in you.” Always be prepared to give a reason… that reason will be given in
and through our words. We have the opportunity to speak the words of God to others. We also
have the opportunity to serve and show people the love of Christ. Both are important and both
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he invited four fishermen to discipleship with the simple
words, “Come, follow me.” But following Jesus, listening to Jesus, and serving others wasn’t the
sum total of discipleship. Jesus added, “I will make you fishers of men.” Whereas up until that
time they had been fishing for fish, Jesus was taking their fishing careers to greater heights –
now, they would be fishing for people for the Kingdom of God. He set them to the challenge of
telling people about God’s love and grace. If you listen to what I say and do what I ask you to do
you, Jesus says, you are going to catch people. You are going to live a fulfilled life. You are
going to make a difference in the lives of others. The Great Commission began at the outset of
It continued through the middle of Jesus’ ministry. In the Gospel lesson, we heard about a
demon-possessed man. Jesus cast those demons out of the man and into the herd of pigs. As the
man returned to his right mind, Jesus commissioned him, too. Jesus’ last words to the demon-
possessed man were simply to “go home” – that’s GOING – “and tell your family what God has
done for you.” Jesus had made a tremendous difference in this man’s life, in his daily living – no
more demons, no more nakedness, no more living among the tombs, no more isolation. He had
something to declare to others – the wonderful works of God in his life: freedom, wholeness,
cleansing, redemption, hope.
Then, of course, at the end of Jesus’ ministry came the broad, overarching commission to all
disciples of all times to go to all nations, to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom, and to
make others into followers of Jesus. Oh, let’s understand this correctly. I don’t make someone
into a Christian. You don’t make someone into a Christian. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit.
Conversion to faith in Jesus is the domain of the Holy Spirit. I do appreciate what Jesus told His
original disciples once. It wasn’t specifically in the context of witnessing; it was in the context of
being arrested and being on trial and being able to defend their theological position. Jesus
promised that the Holy Spirit would give them the right words at the right time. That promise is
good for us, too. When we have the opportunity to defend ourselves or simply to proclaim Jesus
as our Lord and Saviour, to give a reason for the hope that we have, let’s not be afraid to speak
boldly, knowing that the Holy Spirit will give us words and voice.
5. A life of GOING
There is movement to what Jesus is doing and to what Jesus asks us to do. A life spent being
with Jesus will result in a life of going. You cannot be with Jesus and stay put. That’s not the
life He wants you to have. Your being will result in going. He will lead you places and when
He does, He sends you with a specific purpose that “when you go, I want you to catch people. I
want you to influence lives. And you will do that by being my hands and feet, by being generous
and touching people’s lives that you may never know about, and also by speaking and
proclaiming the fact that the kingdom of heaven is near for all people.”
Jesus comes in with this mission to grow His disciples in order that they would be sent. And
during His ministry, He would send them. But then they’d come back and learn. This is the
rhythm of a disciple of Jesus. Learn from Him. Be sent. Go. Teach. Tell. Proclaim. Heal.
Come back… learn again… go again… tell again. A couple of chapters after the story of the
demon-possessed man, Jesus sent out 72 men to every town and place where he planned to go.
He had already mentored and equipped them. Then He sent them with the purpose to proclaim
His message. When they came back they returned with joy. Why? Because Jesus’ authority and
power and effectiveness went with them.
We have that same promise and joy. Jesus wants to go a lot of places these days, a lot of places
that need hope and healing and wholeness. He sends us with His very own authority
You know, if you had to give a speech on a particular topic in school or if you had to make a
presentation at work, you would want to go into that knowing as much as possible. Similarly,
many of us get caught up and think that before I go out and tell someone about Jesus, I need to
know everything about Him, I need to be a Bible expert, I need to be able to answer all the
questions people might ask. And I would say it is good to know as much as we can about Jesus.
Absolutely. But let me tell you this: Jesus never invites us into a relationship where we
understand Him perfectly. He invites us into a relationship where He trust Him completely.
So what does this look like? It looks like just caring so much for people, for their eternity, that
you tell them what you do know about Jesus, that you speak the truth about what you know. You
see, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care for them.
It might be as simple as telling someone what Jesus has done for you and what a difference He
has made in your life. Here’s my life before Jesus and here’s my life now. Here’s the dead-end
street my life was on – “I am a sinner, and the wages of sin is death” – and here’s the hope that I
now have – “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That can be powerful
and that’s all it takes.
Your story matters. Too many people are content with the way things are in their lives, but they
have a death sentence hanging over them. The good news is that those who receive God’s gift of
grace have their death sentence removed. We are guilty, but we are freed by Jesus and His
sacrifice at the cross. After hearing what Jesus has done for us and how He has removed that
death sentence from us, we can’t help but want to free others. When something or someone has
made such a difference in your life, you want others to experience that for themselves. When
you’ve been rescued, you want to tell others of your Rescuer. Isn’t that SO MUCH better than a
pillow that gives you a good night sleep?
Will you tell someone about Jesus? There is no better day to start than today. Let’s pray…