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. Today we’ll look at the World of the Text:
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.”
In the world of the Text, we see several things that are very interesting, and that jump out to us. Yesterday, we talked about the significance of the mountain within a Jewish understanding of scripture and history. Looking further within the passage, there are some really interesting things for us to thing through.
First, notice the response of the disciples when they see Jesus – they worship. The word in Greek for worship signifies a bowing, and act of submission or reverence. It makes me think of the hymn – Take the Name of Jesus with you – where it says “Falling prostrate at His feet.” In some denominations, when a pastor is ordained, they will lay prostrate before the altar for a period of time, as an act of submission to God. That is what is happening here with “worship.” They are submitting themselves to Jesus.
So, see the word “doubting” in light of that. The word doubt here literally means to waiver. They were unsure. They didn’t bend the knee quickly, or readily. They weren’t sure. Think about all they had seen now, after these many days, and still they waivered. Always remember that faith is something that is growing and is in process. Some of us, many of us, our faith is something that is always developing within us. Just because you don’t have the “rock star” faith of someone else, doesn’t mean that you don’t have faith. Those that doubted where still among the group.
Jesus then tells us that all authority has been given to Him in heaven and on the earth. Heaven means all the universe, all that is in all of creation and the Earth means just that, the planet earth. Jesus is telling us that there is not a place within the vastness of creation or within the specificity of our lives that He is not over, that He does not reign. That is He is not Lord of. He is Lord of all, creation, the planet, and our lives. This important to know, that He is Lord, because tomorrow we’ll see the thing that He calls the disciples to, and us to. And we will need His help in this!
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