During February school break, the Hoffman family traveled to Washington, D.C. There were many highlights including visiting the top of the Washington Monument and touring the White House. But one of the coolest moments was seeing the space shuttle Discovery, housed at the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport, as part of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The first thing you notice is how ginormous the shuttle is. The second thing you notice is what some people have described as the “burnt-metal or ozone smell.” It’s an impressive experience for sure.
Yet what’s most amazing to me is that the shuttle finished its final mission. The Discovery was the third space shuttle that NASA built. The first space shuttle the Columbia, disintegrated during re-entry on its 28th mission. Tragically, all seven of the crew died. The second space shuttle the Challenger, broke apart seventy-three seconds into its 10th mission killing seven crewmembers. However, the Discovery completed thirty-nine missions and retired in March 2011. Its most famous mission was carrying the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.
The Discovery space shuttle reminded me that followers of Jesus have a mission. It’s found in Matthew 28:19—20 and has become known as “The Great Commission.” After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to his disciples and commanded them to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Why did Jesus send his disciples on mission? Because God is on mission. John 20:19—23 tells us God the Father sent his son Jesus who sent the Holy Spirit. The mission is to redeem, renew, reconcile our world. Romans 8:20—22 tells us creation is groaning like in the pains of childbirth, waiting to be liberated, to be clothed in God’s freedom and glory. Tragically, God’s initial creation, including human beings, was marred by sin. Sin hasn’t destroyed us, but sin makes the world and human beings bent, twisted, warped,
Ever since sin entered the world, God has been on mission to renew and restore creation: the world and the human beings inside it. 2 Corinthians 5 says God is reconciling the world to himself in Christ: through Jesus God is healing and reconnecting creation to himself.
Now every Christian is on mission because in Matt. 28 the resurrected Jesus said, “make disciples.” Followers of Jesus are to spread the good news of his love so others have the opportunity to follow him and join his restoration project.
This means every Christian is engaged in three activities: going, baptizing and teaching. We go to all the nations: people groups, tribes, languages and dialects. We go everywhere because God loves everyone!
Additionally, we baptize and teach in God’s Triune name: urging people to believe in the gospel and study and obey the words of Jesus.
Best of all, our mission is tied to the wonderful message of Easter (coming soon on April 5): Jesus’ resurrection from the dead changes everything. Through his resurrection, Jesus defeated the powers of death, sin and Satan. It was the exclamation point on the declaration that his new Kingdom had broken into this world and would one day be consummated upon his final return (the second coming).
Thus while Easter brings us great joy, it also reminds us of our mission, the “Great Commission.” The resurrection is to be enjoyed AND shared for Christ is renewing our world with a promise to finally complete this perfecting work upon his return.
Charles Wesley said it well in his famous Easter hymn “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”: Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia! Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia! Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia! Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!