Sunday 11 June 2017

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 11 June 2017

Psalm: Psalm 8


Today is Trinity Sunday, when the Church traditionallycelebrates the 'mystery' of God, the Father, the Son and the HolySpirit. It's an understanding of God that has developed over time:God is not a singular tyrant, unaffected by the pain and strugglesof this world, but rather God exists in a community of love:dynamic, involved, generous, vulnerable even. God is a holy triowhose very existence is defined by the giving and receiving oflove. It is a love that is so strong, that we'd be mistaken to saythat Father, Son and Spirit are anything other than 'One'. Here, wefind one of the earliest written expressions of that understanding,contained within the Gospel of Matthew's record of Jesus final'earthly' words. He gives his disciples three things: good news, amission, and a promise. To understand this, it may be helpful tolook back at other mountain-top experiences in Matthew'sGospel.

First, the good news: "All authority in heavenand on earth has been given to me" (v. 18). In Matthew 4:1-11, the devil takes Jesus up amountain and offers him the kingdoms of the world, if only he wouldbow down and worship him. Somehow, at that point, it is the deviland the forces of evil which hold authority over the world. Godwanted God's own image-bearing humans to 'have dominion' over thethings of the earth (Genesis 1:26). Instead, they made idols ofthem, becoming slaves in the process. But on another mountain, Godsays of Jesus: "This is my Son ... Listen to him!" (Matthew 17:5). Jesus has a place high above theother rulers of this world. In order to break their power, on thecross Jesus confronted the other rulers and took onto himself everyact of rebellion against God. Paul wrote: "He disarmed therulers and authorities and made a public example of them,triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2:15). Jesus has won back the truethrone of the universe and those who were once slaves can findrelease.

The New Testament describes this as a 'New Exodus': we are setfree to enter the new community as forgiven disciples in a renewedrelationship with God, following the Lord who rules with absoluteself-giving love. This leads to the mission: "Go,therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing... andteaching..." (vv. 18-19). Jesus' sermon on another mountain (Matthew 5-7) gives us the basis for theteaching of God's renewed people: striving to live on earth "thekingdom of heaven". Baptism is the sign: passing through thewaters, following Christ through death into eternal life. It isperformed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - becauseit's inadequate to talk about God as being anything less, andbecause all three persons are intimately involved in God's savingand liberating love.

"The end of the age" (v. 20) will signal a new dawn, the coming'New Creation' when all will be infused with the glory of God andwe will see Father, Son and Spirit face-to-face. For now, Jesusleaves them with apromise: "Remember, I am with you always" (v.20). It's a promise that lasts, even though we are often like apeople wandering in the wilderness: fighting enemies outside andwithin; trying to live in community; struggling with persecutions,hardship and our own mistakes. We are his people, and he is withus!

To Ponder

  • To what extent would you call yourself a disciple of Christ? Inwhat ways do you consider yourself under Christ's 'authority'?
  • How are God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit allinvolved in your life as a disciple?
  • Are you baptized? Do you know who baptized you? Whoever it was,they were a disciple of Christ. Continue it backwards and we get anunbroken line of Baptism that goes all the way back to thesedisciples with Jesus. And the story continues...

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