bother your conscience, whatever doubts you may have, you can never shake Jesus. He will be with you always.
Can you see him? No and Yes! You see him in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. The real presence of his body and blood in the sacrament helps us see that he is with us always. You see him in the gathering together of believers because Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20) In these ways he makes his presence visible and real to us so that we never forget that he is with us always. That’s why we want to make use of these blessings often in life. We don’t want to ever lose sight of Jesus our almighty Immanuel who is with us always.
But does that mean we will never have any problems or challenges to our faith? No. It’s like driving a dump truck. When I was in college, I spent my summers working for a construction company. At the end of one summer, the boss decided that I needed to learn how to drive a dump truck. I don’t know why, but soon I was sitting in a dump truck being trained by a real redneck. Now, driving a dump truck on mountain roads is no picnic and I don’t think I would have ever been comfortable driving it by myself. As long as I had that redneck sitting next to my I was okay. That’s what it means that Jesus is with us always.
It doesn’t mean he will live our lives for us or suffer our troubles for us. We still experience the loss of friends, the death of loved ones and attacks on our faith. But the Savior who died for you will also be with you at those times making even those things work for your good. There will be times when we fall into sin, when sin gets the better of us. There may be times when we are loaded down with guilt. But Jesus is with us then, too, forgiving our sin and reminding us of his love through word and sacrament.
We know the power of Jesus’ authority and the promise of Immanuel, God with us. Now let’s hear the mission. 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, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. It is clear that those who call Jesus their Lord and Savior do not find their highest purpose in peeling potatoes for a church dinner or winning a game for the church softball team. Our highest calling is not cleaning the church, counting money or raising funds. Such things certainly have their place in the life of the church, but the real business of the church is making disciples, baptizing and teaching.
The church’s task is to connect people with the saving action of the Triune God. We do that by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In baptism God breaks down the wall of sin that separates people from God and from each other. God meets people in baptism with his grace, adopting them as his own children and assuring them of constant forgiveness and eternal life.
Then we are to teach. We are to teach everything he has commanded. When you tell a child to eat everything on his plate, do you mean that he is to eat one bite of each thing on his plate? No, you mean everything on the plate. Jesus told us to teach everything he has commanded. He didn’t mean just bits and pieces, but everything. This verse could be translated, “Teach them to guard as precious everything I have commanded.” We want to lead those who are baptized to know and treasure all the truths of God’s Word as precious to faith.
We make disciples by baptizing and teaching, first we need to go. Jesus didn’t say sit in the pew and make disciples of all nations. He said, “Go.” I believe that we are uniquely qualified to make disciples. Many churches have lost the priority of sharing and teaching God’s truth. They spend more time protesting about civil rights or feeding the hungry. They spend their efforts on money management seminars and helping the homeless, but not spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s not allow ourselves to drift that same direction. We are heralds of Advent. During the Christmas season we have special opportunities to share the gospel. We have special services that we can invite people to. We can talk about the real meaning of Christmas and why it is more than gifts and stress.
We are heralds of Advent. We have a mission to make disciples of all nations. And we can do that because of the power, promise and presence of Jesus. He is Immanuel: God with us.