Just now I want to talk with you a bit about the last one of these commissions, the Olivet commission. I do not know just what day it was given or at what hour. But I have thought it was in the twilight of a Sabbath evening. There's a yellow glow of light filling all the western sky running along the broken line of those hills yonder, and through the trees, and in upon this group of men standing.
Here in full view lies little Bethany fragrant with memories of Jesus' power. Over yonder, those tree tops down in a bit of valley with the brook -- that is Gethsemane. And farther over there is the fortress city of Jerusalem. And just outside its wall is the bit of a knoll called Calvary. Here under these trees every night that last week of the tragedy Jesus had slept out in the open, with His seamless coat wrapped about Him. This is the spot He chooses for the good-by word. It is full of most precious, fragrant memories.
Here is the man who has been Simon, but out of whom a new man was coming these days, Peter, the man of rock. And here are John and James, sons of fire and of thunder, sons of their mother. And there, little Scotch Andrew. At least our Scotch friends seem to have adopted him as their very own. And close by his side is his friend with the Greek name, Philip. And here the man to whom Jesus paid the great tribute of naming him the guileless man.
And the others, not so well known to us, but very well known to Jesus, and to be not a whit less faithful than their brothers these coming days. But somehow as you look you are at once irresistibly drawn past these to Him -- the Man in the midst. The Man with the great face, torn with the thorns, and cut with the thongs, but shining with a sweet, wondrous, beauty light.
It is the last time they are together. He is going away; coming back soon, they understand. They do not know just how soon. But meanwhile in His absence they are to be as He Himself would be if He remained among men. They are to stand for Him. And so with eyes fixed on His face they look, and listen, and wonder a bit, just what the last word will be.
What would you expect it to be? It was the good-by word between men who were lovers, dearest friends. The tenderest thing would be said and the most important. The one going away would speak of that which lay closest down in His own heart. And whatever He might say would sink deepest into their hearts, and control their action in the after days.
He had been talking to them very insistently, about an hour before, down in the city, about waiting there until the Holy Spirit came upon them. And that word has fastened itself into their minds with newly sharpened hooks of steel points. Now He talks about their being His witnesses, here at home among their own folks, and out among their half-breed Samaritan neighbors, whom they didn't like, and then -- with eyes looking yearningly out and finger pointing steadily out -- to the farthest reach of the planet. And now, as He is about to go, this is the word that comes from those lips:
|All power hath been given unto Me.
Therefore go ye,
And make disciples of all nations.|