Matthew 28: 16-20 – The World Behind the Text

As we continue with our encounters with Jesus, this week we’ll look at one of the most important passages in the Bible for us as Christians.  This passage in Matthew 28: 16-20 is often called the Great Commission:

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

rootedchristToday in our World Behind the Text, we’ll look at what happens in the broader context of the world with this passage.  Always remember when reading any book of scripture the context of the passage itself, but also the context of the book that it comes from. So, for instance, with Matthew, this is a Jewish disciple, writing to a majority Jewish audience. Within that, there will be context clues that magnify what is happening through the scope of Jewish history and experience.  These are things that may not mean much to you or me, but to an original audience would speak very, very loudly.

In our passage today, there are two things, right off the bat, that do just that.  Where in the passage do they meet Jesus?  On a mountain.  Was this because He would soon be ascended?  No, think about the Old Testament.  Always remember Moses and the Law and the Moutain.  Anytime Jesus, in Matthew, does something significant on a mountain, that is Matthew’s way of drawing attention to His connection with the Old Testament and with Moses.  Second, notice which mountain?  The one that Jesus directed them too.  Just like Abraham was directed to the land (and later the mountain) that God revealed to him, so now are the disciples, in this pivotal moment directed to this mountain, shown to them by Jesus.

These things that don’t mean much to us at first glance, but to a Jewish audience once again shows them that Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.  He is the fulfillment of that promise.

Understanding this world behind the text for Matthew and his audience shows us, once again, that Jesus truly is who He says He is. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the world of the text.

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