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The angels at the tomb told the women to have the disciples assemble in Galilee (Matthew 28.7). A movement that began in Galilee was to return there for the next instructions in their obedience to Jesus.
Matthew records the meeting with these words, “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted” (Matthew 28.16-17).
The fact that the assembled people worshiped Jesus needs no explanation. They had followed him and had more profound experiences than any other group of people who had ever lived. They had agonized through Jesus’ last days on earth and rejoiced beyond imagination with his resurrection. Worship was totally appropriate.
I have no explanation or idea about why some doubted. I do know that my own faith is not fully mature or complete, and it is possible that it was true for them, too.
The Great Commission
Matthew recorded the final message of Jesus to his followers with these words, “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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28.19-20).
From the early days of his ministry, the authority of Jesus was challenged. The religious authorities claimed he was guilty of blasphemy when he forgave a paralyzed man’s sins (Matthew 9.3). They claimed that his healings were performed by the power of the ruler of the demons (Matthew 12.24). When he cleansed the Temple, they wanted to know who gave him the authority (Matthew 21.23).
The execution of Jesus on the cross was the ultimate exertion of the religious and governmental authority over Jesus. The resurrection was God’s profound and final affirmation of Jesus’ authority.
The final phrases of Isaiah 53 were fulfilled in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53.11-12)
Jesus had every right to say, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28.18). Authority answers the question, “Who is in control here?”
The answer is obvious, “Lord Jesus, you are in control.”
Our Job Description
The One who earned the right to be the authority over our lives outlined our basic job description. The three elements of our work are as follows:
(1) We are to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28.19). Just as we have been learning how to live a Jesus-kind-of-life by studying the life and teaching of Jesus, we are to help other people do the same. We recognize that study is only part of the process. The real transformation comes when we interact personally with the Lord through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
(2) We are to “baptize people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28.19 paraphrase). Dallas Willard reminds his readers that the word “baptize” means to immerse. Our goal is not to just get people wet with water baptism. Rather, we are to immerse them in the life of the Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
(3) The third portion of our job description is to “teach people to obey everything that Jesus commanded us” (Matthew 28.20 paraphrase). What did Jesus teach us? He taught us great truths in the Sermon on the Mount and in his parables. The way Jesus responded to disciples, seekers, and his enemies was another method of teaching.
Jesus taught us how to live a Jesus-kind-of-life. He wants us to teach people the same thing through our words and deeds.
As we live under the authority of Jesus and as we live out the job description he gave us, he leaves us with this assurance: “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28.20). He will never leave us, because his Spirit is always with us.
The Book of Psalms
I am a little sad to be ending this study in the Gospel of Matthew. I feel that the writings of Matthew have become like a friend to me. However, I am also eager to begin a study in the Psalms.
I have not included footnotes in my blog articles. However, I am indebted to R. T. France and Dallas Willard for writing outstanding books on the Gospel of Matthew and the Sermon on the Mount.
I have found four tremendous books on the Psalms. I look forward to presenting the Psalms to you, beginning tomorrow. I have used the Psalms in my own prayer life for many years. My purpose in writing about the Psalms is to help you deepen your prayer life by using the Psalms as a “tool” in your relationship with Jesus.
Some of you connect with my blog through YouTube. My wife, Toni, has agreed to help me provide YouTube videos on the Psalms. I think you will enjoy listening to Toni on the videos.
Thanks for being part of this journey through Matthew. I look forward to your joining us in the Psalms.
Dear Jesus, with all our heart, we praise you for your magnificent life. Words are not adequate to describe how profoundly we love and appreciate you.