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The Empty Bed
"Go and make disciples of all nations."
Matthew 28:19


I was eager to return to St. James Infirmary in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and reconnect with Rendell, who two years earlier had learned about Jesus’s love for him. Evie, a teenager in the high school choir I travel with each spring, had read Scripture with Rendell and explained the gospel, and he personally received Jesus as his Savior.

When I entered the men’s section of the home and looked toward Rendell’s bed, however, I found it was empty. I went to the nurse’s station, and was told what I didn’t want to hear. He had passed away—just five days before we arrived.

Through tears, I texted Evie the sad news. Her response was simple: “Rendell is celebrating with Jesus.” Later she said, “It’s a good thing we told him about Jesus when we did.”

Her words reminded me of the importance of being ready to lovingly share with others the hope we have in Christ. No, it’s not always easy to proclaim the gospel message about the One who will be with us always (Matthew 28:20), but when we think about the difference it made for us and for people like Rendell, perhaps we’ll be encouraged to be even more ready to “make disciples” wherever we go (v. 19).

I’ll never forget the sadness of seeing that empty bed—and also the joy of knowing what a difference one faithful teen made in Rendell’s forever life.

By Dave Branon

God, we know that people need You. Help us to overcome our fear of telling others about You.

What are some things you can do to introduce people to Jesus today? As you share your faith, how does it encourage you to know Jesus is “with you always” (Matthew 28:20)?

Matthew 28:19-20 (often called the “Great Commission”) is structured like an Old Testament prophetic call: first there’s an encounter with God followed by doubts (v. 17); then the doubts are overcome through reassurance and empowerment by God (vv. 18-20; Isaiah 6:1-8).

By following this structure, Matthew emphasizes that believers in Christ are called to be a witness to the joy of life in Christ’s kingdom. Although Jesus has already defeated evil and rules with “all authority” (28:18), He doesn’t immediately remove all evil. Instead, Jesus gently draws others “by slow means and quick, under the rule of his life-giving love” (N.T. Wright)—until one day when death itself is fully destroyed and the world follows Him. Christ’s victory reveals itself now through the obedience of those willing to learn a new way of life, through the power of His loving presence (v. 20). - Monica Brands
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