Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)
Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:1-11
Jesus spent forty days on the earth after he was raised from the dead. In our Jesus Appears to His Disciples lesson, we learned about when Jesus initially appeared to his disciples. In this story, we're going to focus on three things Jesus did at the end of those forty days.
- Jesus gave them the Great Commission - In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave the disciples their marching orders (known as the Great Commission), and these are our marching orders too! Here is an outline this very important commission:
- Authority ("All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me") - Jesus starts the command with the reason we should listen to it!
- Activities - Jesus gives us three things to do:
- "Go and make disciples of all nations" - We must go out and make disciples - not just in our neighborhoods, but throughout all the world.
- "Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." - Jesus wants them to be baptized, just as we are to be baptized. Baptism is an important symbol of our identity with Christ.
- "Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you" - We should teach them what we have learned ourselves.
- Assurance ("And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.") - Jesus ends the command with the assurance that he will never leave us. We don't have to do this on our own.
- Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came to them - It is easy to overlook how this instruction must have felt to the disciples. Jesus had just been crucified several weeks earlier in Jerusalem! Then, in the first chapter of Acts, Jesus promised them that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days.
- (Note: we are focusing on the story aspect of this scripture, not the doctrinal aspects. If your church has specific beliefs about this portion of scripture - like the baptism of the Holy Spirit - feel free to include that teaching in this lesson)
- Jesus told them that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Jerusalem was the capital of the Southern Kingdom (aka Judah, which is where the "Judea" region came from) and Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom (which the Jews from the Southern Kingdom despised)
- This is similar to the Great Commission ("go and make disciples of all nations"), but has a strategy attached to it.
- Start with where you are, include your greater region, don't forget about the people you are not "friends" with, and then go worldwide.
- Jesus ascended into heaven
- Right after Jesus said those words, he was taken up to heaven in a cloud. Note, it does not say he was taken "on" a cloud; rather, it says he was taken up "in" or "into" a cloud (think a plane taking off, not a Charmin baby)
- The disciples were standing there watching, looking up to the skies as Jesus ascended, when two angels were suddenly standing next to them (if that were me, I don't think I could have resisted saying "boo!")
- The angels told them that Jesus had been taken into heaven, but that someday he would return again as he came.
What You Will Need
Great Commission Coloring Sheet
This coloring sheet depicts Jesus ascending to heaven after giving the disciples the Great Commission.