Sunday 07 June 2020

Bible Book:

'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.' (v. 19)

Matthew 28:16-20 Sunday 7 June 2020

Psalm: Psalm 8


These are the final verses of Matthew’s Gospel; coming at the end of a chapter which began with the account of Jesus’ resurrection and two instructions (verses 7 and 10) to the women to tell the disciples to go to Galilee in order to see Jesus.  Clearly the message has been repeated and acted upon for now we are told that the eleven disciples have indeed gone to Galilee and "to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them".  Matthew has not told us which mountain this is but the disciples seem to know where to go, perhaps it was a regular meeting place.  What is of great importance to Matthew, whose Gospel frequently portrays Jesus as the new Moses, is that this significant event takes place on a mountain. Just as Moses ended his life on a mountain (Deuteronomy 32:49-50) after commissioning Joshua to take up his work, so Jesus’ final act is to commission his disciples on a mountain.    

The distance between Jerusalem and Galilee is around 70 miles, so we can imagine that several days could have passed between the resurrection and this event, but again Matthew does not include the details. 

It is not easy to synchronise the various Gospel accounts of these post-resurrection days. Maybe that should not surprise us; with the death and resurrection of Jesus the lives of the followers of Jesus underwent a profound dislocation. As we learn to live in this new world of pandemic we too are learning something of dislocation and only those who kept a very detailed diary of ‘lockdown’ might be able to say now with any confidence exactly what happened on which date over these strange and unprecedented weeks. 

These verses are known as ‘the Great Commission’ and form the basis of our understanding that we are called to evangelise, to make new disciples. We visit the verses today, on Trinity Sunday, because of the clear use of the Trinitarian wording "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".  Although this is the first time this precise wording is used, it is reminiscent of Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:16-17 where the Son is baptised, the Father speaks and the Spirit descends, so gives the Gospel some symmetry as the earthly mission of Jesus closes. 


To Ponder:

  • Even amongst the disciples we read that "they worshipped but some doubted". How does doubt weave through your worship? Can doubt be a creative part of worship?
  • The theme for this week in A Word in Time is ‘Holy, holy, holy’ – the word ‘Holy’ repeated three times also links to our understanding of a Trinitarian God. Reflect on how you understand the holiness of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
  • As we live in these days of high anxiety and fear, how might the final words of Jesus, "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" give us courage?
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