Jesus isn’t lost, but so few actually find Him. At the end of Matthew, Jesus promised to always be with His disciples. But how do we find Him? Often we associate His presence with goosebumps and feelings we experience during a song or prayer time as worship. There’s nothing wrong with goosebumps and worship. Yet worship as an experience alone is incomplete. Jesus clearly told us where we would find Him, and never mentioned finding Him in our emotions, but in our obedient actions.
Jesus is where:
— we welcome children (Matthew 18:5)
— two or three are accountable and reconciled (Matthew 18:19)
— we care for and welcome the least of these (Matthew 25:40-45)
Leading up to the promise of presence in Matthew 28:20, Jesus laid out the roadmap for all disciples that we call the Great Commission. It’s actually more accurate to call it the Last or Only Commission. This passage is the perfect example of how incomplete a worship experience can be.
Matthew 28:16-20 (NLT)
16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.
19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The disciples got to the place where Jesus told them to go. They started with obedience. They even worshipped Him – but some doubted. Worship alone wasn’t enough. Jesus gave them clear instructions to continue to obey Him – with the promise to always be with them and with us as disciples.
In verse 18, Jesus reveals the completeness of His power and authority. All means all. All power and authority. Therefore go, make disciples – baptizing them… We see the disciples obeying this command in Acts by declaring to repent and be baptized! The next part of the commission? Teach them to obey all the commands I have given you. Then comes the promise of presence. Following this commission means submitting to the power and authority of Jesus, leading to repentance and obedience. That’s how we find Him. With only worship at a certain time and place – some can still doubt.
In John 14, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will come after the resurrection and that disciples will not be orphans. Right before that promise, Jesus says this:
John 14:15 (NLT)
“If you love me, obey my commandments.”
As if to make sure we get the point, Jesus again clarifies that He will be revealed through obedience.
John 14:21 (NLT)
“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
Jesus reveals Himself to us as we obey Him. It’s complete obedience, not just getting to the mountaintop to see Him. Doubt can still live there. Recognizing Him on the mountain should lead us to submit to His absolute power and authority through repentance and obedience. We find Him by welcoming children, the least of these and loving one another because that’s where the obedience to His commands leads us!
The promise of His presence also defines our purpose. Obedience to all Jesus commanded isn’t our option, it’s our promise! That’s where Jesus reveals Himself and is always with us. And since we are human and our flesh is weak, the Holy Spirit is our free gift to power that promise! In the context of humble obedience Paul speaks of that power.
Philippians 2:13 (NLT)
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
It’s no coincidence that Matthew 1:23 reveals that Jesus would be called “God with us!” Following Jesus is so much more than a free ticket to heaven. We can literally experience God with us. He reveals Himself as we allow God’s power to live through us in obedience.
Loving Jesus isn’t about goosebumps, it’s about relationship. Obeying Jesus unlocks the reality of His presence. Obedience leads us both to the mountaintop, and to the least of these. There’s no other way to find Him!