It was near the time when the Union forces in the Civil War would declare victory over the Confederate troops. Union General Philip H. Sheridan commanded four cavalry divisions in addition to supporting infantry during the campaign. He was one of General Grant’s favorite officers. After the Battle of Sailor’s Creek he advised Grant saying, “If the thing is pressed I think Lee will surrender.” Learning this, Lincoln telegraphed Grant saying, “Let the thing be pressed.”
“Let the thing be pressed.” In this terse command, just five words, President Lincoln brought urgency to the conflict that had ripped so deeply into the fabric of our nation. It was shortly after this that the Confederate forces surrendered at Appomattox.
As Jesus was preparing for the time when he would return to his Father, and his followers would take the gospel to the nations, he emphasized the absolute necessity of making disciples, of keeping the main thing the main thing. Note these words at the end of each of the gospels and the very beginning of the Book of Acts:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)
…and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:46-48)
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Jesus’ last words. Our first priority. Let the thing be pressed.
– Pastor Mike