Wednesday 04 April 2018

Bible Book:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (v. 19)

Matthew 28:16-20 Wednesday 4 April 2018

Psalm: Psalm 119:113-128


The Gospels unfold the story of the Resurrection in different ways. All four accounts are clear that the news was given first to women, but there is a real mix of stories about Jesus’ appearances after that. Matthew’s Gospel tells how the 11 disciples travelled back up north, to Galilee, which was home for many of them. There, they met the risen Lord on a mountain-top, the place where so many encounters with the holy had taken place (eg Matthew 17:1-8).

Matthew emphasises the way in which Jesus’ resurrection evoked a range of responses. The women were both joyful and terrified (Matthew 28:8). These disciples were both worshipful and doubtful (verse 17). The same word is used to express Jesus’ response to Simon Peter when he began to sink into the water: “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:30). But Peter’s doubt then did not prevent Jesus from rescuing him, and the disciples’ doubt here did not stop the Lord from giving them what is often known as ‘The Great Commission’. Though they were flawed in many ways, Jesus’ authority gave them the capacity to achieve what he asked of them.

Matthew’s Gospel has a major focus on discipleship. There is more teaching than in the other Gospels. Jesus’ followers were invited to think about evangelism and leadership, about what a moral life looks like, about God and what it means to have God at the centre of life. In this passage, we discover the point of all this. It’s not just for the disciples’ own benefit, but so that they can begin the process of building a world-wide community of disciples through Baptism and teaching. There is a degree of irony here: 11 disciples, some unconvinced, were instructed to begin growing an international movement, in the context of the much larger international movement known as the Roman Empire. It’s a David and Goliath picture. Yet the Church still flourishes, while the Roman Empire was consigned to history centuries ago. For Matthew, the key to overcoming this imbalance is the overwhelming authority given to Jesus (see Daniel 7:13-14), alongside his promise that he is always with his disciples. And in this Resurrection story as in so many others, there is the sense that the words echo down the centuries to our own times, as we too seek to build an international, inclusive community of followers of Jesus.

To Ponder

  • This Gospel suggests that making disciples happens through Baptism and teaching. Do you agree that these are the cornerstones? Would you like to add to or change this list?
  • ‘If a few disciples could change the world, there is hope for the declining churches of the West’. Where does the balance lie between joyful confidence and naïve optimism?
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