Great Commission #1
I want to spend this week on the blog focusing on the Great Commission left to us by Jesus Himself. Matthew’s Gospel records a set of commands which Jesus gave to His disciples, and these extend to us as well. They have become very familiar words, and the phrase “Great Commission” is famous among churches. But do we really know what it means?
If I asked you to sum up the Great Commission, what would you say? I wager that most would answer by saying, “Telling others about Jesus!” This is true, in a broad sense, but the Great Commission is rather more specific than that.
Matthew’s Gospel records the following:
But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had sent them. 17 When they saw him, they bowed down to him; but some doubted. 18 Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.Matthew 28:16-20 (WEB)
Bowing and Doubting
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He makes an appointment with His disciples to meet Him in Galilee. This is a town in the north of Israel, and meant the disciples having to travel up from Jerusalem after Jesus’ death.
Before we examine Jesus’ commands,, let us first look at the important words leading up to them.
Verse 16 shows us that they went to Galilee, and then up the mountain as agreed. There, Jesus appears to them, and it records that they bow down. This, to me at least, implies that all eleven of them did indeed bow to the Risen Lord. They recognised Him, and not just the Person of Jesus, but His now revealed power and stature as the Risen Christ. Recognising His divinity will be important when we consider Jesus’ authority in a moment.
Then, verse 17 makes a note that many of us may skip over. Some of them doubted… This is astonishing to me. This is not some large group barely familiar with Jesus, but the Eleven, the inner circle. They have travelled with Jesus for three years, seeing Him heal and raise the dead. They watched as He was crucified, and yet now stands before them, alive and well. Still, some of them doubted.
They all bowed, but some of them doubted. Faith and doubt are not mutually exclusive it seems #Bible #Jesus #GreatCommissionTweet
What this says to me is that faith and doubt are not mutually exclusive. We can have faith at the same time we are wrestling with doubt. Putting it another way, faith is not the absence of doubt, and nor is doubt the absence of faith.
We know that these men went on to die for what they believed, and some in horrendous ways such as Peter who was crucified upside down. Despite having “doubts” they did not allow them to hamper their world-changing faith.
For us, I think the lesson is that it is ok to have questions. There is much we do not understand, and it is simply not possible to have all the answers before we commit to Jesus. We should take our questions to the Lord and prayerfully seek the truth.
Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.Matthew 28:18 (WEB)
Before we examine Jesus’ commission to us in the coming days, we must first understand His authority. Here, He states quite clearly that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. That means, simply put, He is in charge.
Jesus does not offer guidance here, nor advice, nor encouragement. Instead, He sets out His total authority over all things and then tells us what to do. It is not optional, and we cannot ignore it.
Consider if you went to court and the judge ordered you to do something. It is not optional for you, but the authority of the court now compels you to follow its instructions. To not comply could lead to hefty fines or worse incarceration.
When Jesus gives us these commands, He expects them to be followed and He is backed by all authority under heaven. Do we treat His words accordingly?
The point I want to make, as we begin this series, is to understand that Jesus sets out His authority because He expects us to do what He says. We will look at what is involved in this in the coming days, but let us begin by submitting to His authority, and deciding in our hearts that we will do whatever it is He is about to ask us.
What will you do?
At the end of each post on the Great Commission, I will ask you this question: what will you do in response to what you have read?
Today, I ask:
- How can you bow down to the Risen Christ?
- Do you have doubts? If so, how can you bring them to the Lord?
- Are you prepared to fully submit yourself to Jesus’ authority? Be honest, and take the answer to God in prayer.