Matthew 28: 16-20 – The World of the Text, Part Two

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 well continue looking deeper at this passage, picking up with Jesus’ command to His disciples.  He tells them to make disciples of all nations.  A couple of things here. First the word disciple has a very specific meaning, it means to obey and to follow the teachings of.  To make disciples is to make followers of Jesus, not believers in Jesus.  Jesus is making a great point to these disciples, just as they are to go and follow Jesus, they are to teach others to do the same.  They are not to go and just get people to agree that Jesus is Lord, but they are to get folks to follow Him.

Another interesting thing I learned in my reading is the root of the word baptize.  It first appears, as best we can tell, in an old Greek recipe for making pickles.  As someone who hates pickles, this bothers me!  But the significance of this word in that context is not so much how the pickle is prepared, but that the cucumber is “changed,” it becomes something different.  Baptism is an act of making someone a different person.  God’s grace is shed upon them, and they are someone different.  That’s a neat way to think about baptism (a way that I never have before) to think of it like pickling!

All nations mean what you think it means, all the world and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit refers to each person of the Trinity.  We see here the importance of our belief in the Trinity as Christians, our very act of initiation, of induction into the family involves being marked in the name of the Trinity

We are reminded, once again, to teach them to obey. This point is hammered home, again and again, obey.  We are not called to an intellectual belief system alone, we are called to a life of obedience.  And we reminded that Jesus’ presence will be with us always, to the very end.

The next two days we’ll look at what these passages mean specifically to our lives today!

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