Commission of Commissions

Matthew 28:8-10, 16-20

And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they shall see Me.

[The Lie of Lies has been omitted for time’s sake and because we have covered it thoroughly]

But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This is it, this is the end of the Gospel of Matthew, written to a first-century, Jewish audience, but preserved and passed down for us. Matthew concludes his composition with words of Jesus which he spoke to his disciples after his resurrection and their return to Galilee, where it all began. Matthew omitted many scenes and scenarios between Jesus and his disciples, which was a period of at least 40 days, maybe more, following the resurrection. Matthew focused on only three scenes, the empty tomb, the lie of lies and this, what we call the “Great Commission.” Jesus instructed his disciples to meet him in Galilee, which they were more accustomed to then Jerusalem, yet something is very different now. Actually, everything has changed and the context bears witness.

I find it fascinating that Jesus appeared to the women first. Actually, that’s not what I find fascinating, that’s typical Jesus, doing the opposite of what we think. What I find fascinating is that the world thinks that Christianity is patriarchal and phallocentric, yet is the only “religion” that isn’t. Here we find one of many proofs, Jesus spoke first to the women. And upon hearing, what did the women do? “They departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.” After this, a worship service breaks out. “And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they shall see Me.” It’s time to jettison Jerusalem and go gather in Galilee.

“But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.” In the context we clearly see that they have fled Jerusalem and Judea, north to Galilee, where it all began. Was it to flee the belly of the beast? It has been several days, weeks even, since the betrayal of betrayals, denial of denials and the trial of trials and although I am sure things were still stirred, I don’t think that peace and serenity were the primary objectives. Though they certainly were a factor, nevertheless they could have met outside Jericho, near the Dead Sea perhaps, or in a mountain in the Negev, if tranquility and alone time was the superlative focus. The focus is leaving Jerusalem and going to Galilee. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, I think a return to Galilee was surely symbolic. Going back to the beginning for rebirth and a rebuilding certainly seems sensible and getting out of the Hornet’s nest of Jerusalem is awfully appealing. Nevertheless it doesn’t appear to be only for security reasons. We have to see the overarching theme and sublime string contained in the context of Matthew. Part of the sublime string that Matthew threads is that Jesus went to Jerusalem, mounted on a donkey, proclaiming himself as King, the way in which Zechariah foretold. Yet from day one, the religious leaders did not believe him.

This being the last paragraph in Matthew, which puts an end to our year-long journey of considering Matthew’s aspirations to his audience, I could certainly go long and belabor those aspirations. But Matthew kept it short and sweet therefore I will as well. Normally I would be writing, consider the context, which we will, however what Matthew makes no mention of is almost as compelling as that of which he makes mention. The other gospel writers share stories about sheep, fishing, other followers and many convincing proofs that Jesus was raised from the dead. But Matthew gives us the empty tomb and the lie of lies as all the evidence one needs. Matthew then concludes his composition with the commission of the disciples, not in the heart and hub of religious activities but in Galilee–back to the beginning, coming full circle, a brand new beginning, if you will. Jesus was rejected in Jerusalem.

And here on this mountain in Galilee, a mountain to those in Florida and a molehill to those in Colorado Springs, Jesus is worshipped by his disciples. Yes, the context says some doubted, but they worshipped him. Based on other Gospel accounts, we know that Thomas was one who doubted but Matthew doesn’t focus on the doubt, rather he concludes the doubt with worship and reverence. At this point in the context, they are beginning to believe and worship Jesus. Let me put it this way, they are finally getting it. Now they understand what Jesus was saying and how it all came to pass. They have humbled themselves before Christ and their pumps are primed to receive what Jesus says next.

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”

We are blessed with the completed Scripture, therefore we can know what happens next by reading the book of Acts, which we very well might do. Yet Matthew ends his composition here, with these words of Jesus, sending the disciples out into the world, saying literally, “as you are going, be making disciples.” But we must not miss the mark of Matthew, contained in what Jesus said. We see it, we know it, we teach it and repeat it but do we fully and truly believe: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth?” Jesus didn’t mean “all” authority, did he? Jesus, the metaphorical Master was probably using hyperbole, wasn’t he? Does Jesus really have all authority on the earth and in heaven? We are blessed with the completed Scripture, therefore we can use the CAGED method to Divide rightly, the word of truth to figure out if Jesus was using hyperbole. We simply take our Vitamin E and search for Expository Exegesis of Examples.

Paul, the former Pharisee, writes to the Colossian church; “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

One thing that has changed after the cross, in the context of Matthew as it pertains to his aspirations to his audience, is that Jesus no longer speaks metaphorically. Sure it’s a small sample but again, consider Matthew’s aspiration to his audience. Proceeding the cross, Jesus used a myriad of metaphorical meanings, but these cease after the cross. Matthew records no more miracles, healings, water walkings or feedings of five and four thousand, all of which he recorded prior to the cross. Jesus no longer speaks in parables in the context of Matthew. Many things changed in the context of Matthew after Jesus was raised from the dead. But it’s not just in the context, it’s a brand New Covenant and Matthew ends his composition with the following and I will as well: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

But before I do, and you saw this coming, consider all the context of Matthew, where he presents Jesus as the true Israel, mirroring their footsteps but succeeding where they failed. And now Jesus tells all his eleven remaining, Jewish disciples to make disciples of all the nations because Jesus has been given all authority. The old way has come to a close being fulfilled by Jesus. Matthew’s aspiration to his audience is that everything of which he has written points to this. All the fulfilled prophesies point to this. Moses pointed to this.

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

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