The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power 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, until the end of the age.”Matthew 28:16-20
These verses represent the conclusion of the gospel according to Matthew.
Jesus has been crucified, has risen, and meets with the apostles to pass to them the responsibility for building God’s church on earth.
Some call these verses ‘The Great Commissioning!’
They are symbolic, declarative, and instructional.
“The eleven disciples went to Galilee…”: We know there were 12; the difference of 1 being notable and a subtle reminder of the perils of rejecting Christ.
“…to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them”: A place ‘reaching up to the heavens’, closer to God, where Christ has previously preached, and where many can see from down below.
“When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted”: Intriguing that one would worship while having doubt. Worship would be appropriate for the risen Christ, Him having conquered death, demonstrating he is the son of God; what’s to doubt, especially considering the apostles have witnessed his miracles during his ministry? An imposter, maybe? Or self-doubt, perhaps.
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me”: Of course, Jesus knew the apostles had doubts, Him being all knowing; what better way to resolve doubt, than to declare the awesome truth, with absolute certainty.
“Go, make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”: THIS is the ‘Great’ part of the commissioning; being tasked with making followers of ALL people, Jews and Gentiles alike, through Baptism into God’s family.
“…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”: a reference to the beatitudes, the commandment to love one another, and many other teachings from Christ’s ministry; Christ set standards that his disciples are expected to live up to; truth, not relativism, is the basis of Christ’s message.
“And behold, I am with you to the end of the age”: translated, I have your back, and that is for the duration.
These 5 verses represent what we are called to: we’ve been given the authority, the source material, and the sponsorship, and we know what needs to be done.
Let us proceed as requested by Christ himself, with grace, to serve others through discipleship and secure our place in God’s kingdom.
By Bob Cregg