Friday 13 June 2014

Matthew 28 v 16/20

We are at the end of Matthew’s gospel for this week’s reading and the Apostles have gone to the mountain in Galilee to which Jesus had directed them to go. Jesus had chosen this place to meet them for it was where their homes were. When they saw the Lord they bowed down and worshipped Him, but some doubted that it was Him for they could not accept the resurrection, and they wondered if it really was the risen Christ.

We know from earlier accounts that ten of the disciples had met the risen Jesus, Judas having killed himself and Thomas later met and was convinced, so the doubt may have been due to the fact that they saw Jesus appearing in the distance, for we are told He came nearer and spoke to them.

Jesus claimed all power and authority had been given to Him and has the right to exercise it. He has the power to do as He pleases both in heaven and on earth. He is about to give authority to Hus disciples to go out into the world in His name.

He told them to ‘go’, meaning that they and all followers of Christ in all ages must go and take the gospel to others. Before however we can go, people must first ‘come’ and know Jesus, not know about Him. But know personally. We are to go because the Lord has so commanded and has promised to support us in all our efforts for Him. He gives us the right to speak in His name so we have justification to call on people, our friends and families to follow Christ.

We sometimes hear politicians and others criticising us for trying to convert people, but if we accept the words of Jesus there is no nation or culture beyond His authority. In ancient times news was announced by a herald who was the King’s messenger and would proclaim the King’s message word for word without any interpretation or alteration, faithfully delivering it. We are to be the messengers for the King of Kings

Jesus laid a duty on the Apostles not to confine their knowledge and faith to themselves; they were to tell the world that Jesus died for sinners. He also called for observation to be given to all things which He commanded.. The Apostles were to reach out, which applies to His Church for all time.

They are to ‘make disciples’, which is slightly different to make converts, in that the mind, heart and will must be captured for God. By disciple the Bible is inferring a learner. There was a responsibility placed on the Apostle to proclaim the truth and will of God, and the disciple having understood mentally must put that understanding into practice.

The Apostles are to baptise in the name of one God, not names, name in the singular of God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A name in Jewish thought represents the one whose name it is, so being baptised into the name of God means being brought into a relationship. The one who has been baptised is stating he/she has been brought into union with the three-in-one God.

The early Church insisted that before the person to whom the gospel had been preached be admitted to Church membership, evidence had to be given of sincere repentance and knowledge of basic Christianity. This meant that teaching should continue so that all Christ had said and done were made known to that person.

Finally, Jesus’ last words were of comfort and encouragement. There is no doubt about His assurance, it is a promise. Jesus in earlier chapter has told them that His grace is sufficient for them and He would never leave them nor forsake them. All through the gospel Jesus has given promise of His constant and comforting presence.

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