May 22, 2005

Matthew 28:16-20

 16 As for the Eleven disciples, they went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw Jesus, they bowed before him, although some doubted.

18 Then Jesus approached them and said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples from all nations. Baptize them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teach them to fulfill all that I have commanded you. I am with you always until the end of this world.”

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Notes from [The Community Christian Bible


Jesus sent his apostles to evangelize the world.

The last apparition is related in a very simple way: no sudden appearance, no fear – no physical demonstration of the reality of Jesus. What is important are the words of Jesus Master.

Although some doubted (v. 17). With this, Matthew sums up the last apparitions of Jesus. Not all the disciples of Jesus (the Eleven and the rest) believed so quickly in the resurrection of Jesus.

Make disciples from all nations (v.19). Jesus, following the example of Jewish teachers of his time, gathered around him a group of disciples who lived with him. The teacher knew his disciples and the disciples knew the teacher by sharing everyday life. The same holds true today: evangelization implies interpersonal sharing.

To evangelize means to help someone ponder his former experiences until he can recognize in the person of Christ, in his death and resurrection, the truth that lights up his own life.

Those who believe will be baptized in the one Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Three Persons Christ taught us about. Of course, he named them separately because the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit; in spite of that, the Three are the same God. Upon entering the Church, the baptized will enter into communion with the Father, with the Son and with the Holy Spirit. The Church is, before anything else, communion.

See Acts 19:5 regarding baptism in the Name of the Lord Jesus.

Teach them to fulfill all that I have commanded you (v. 20). These instructions of Jesus have first place in Matthew’s Gospel; they are in the five discourses and we are to do the will of the Father just as Jesus has revealed it.

I am with you always. Here we find again the certitude which the name Emmanuel already expressed in 1:23: Jesus is God-with-us until the end of time. The first generation Christians thought that Christ would not delay in returning but at the time the Gospel was written, they already understood that history would continue; the nation of Israel rejected the salvation offered to her and only a minority believed. Jesus was now committing himself to his apostles and to his Church and now began to build the Church of his apostles.

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Comments by Wesley

1.  The phrase "make disciples" has long been problematic and may well correspond with issues of technique growing out of Newtonian mechanics and the industrial revolution. There is a rote sense here that too many have picked up on. It is as if we only went through some magic 4-step process of evangelizing that convert after convert will join our way of praising Jesus. Here I appreciate the way in which the King James Version and The Message come at things. They translate matheteuo as "teaching," "training," instructing." This puts the emphasis back on the process of growing or maturing in understanding. As the notes above indicate, "evangelization implies interpersonal sharing."

2. What do we understand that Jesus "commanded" us? Are the Blessings of Chapter 5 commands? Are the commands about the 5-fold loves of God, self, neighbor, one another,  and enemies? Might the commands be in 10:7-8 -- Tell that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously. Getting real specific about what you understand Jesus' "commands" to be is crucial.

3. In the midst of all that can go awry, our grounding is not in the degree of success we have. That is so fraught with circumstance. Rather, we look to the experiences we have of new life, time after time, that remind us of the gifts of creation and incarnation. We name this as Jesus. Even in the midst of depression, destruction, and death we are not alone.

Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit (Called or uncalled, God is present) is a statement that Carl Jung discovered among the Latin writings of Erasmus, who declared the statement had been an ancient Spartan proverb. Jung popularized it, having it inscribed over the doorway of his house, and upon his tomb. [from Wikipedia] May you know GOD to be with you. Period. Amen.

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