Feb 14 2013 - Matthew 28:1-20 – Risen
After Jesus had been baptised by John, he was in a deserted area for forty days, at the end of which he was tempted by the devil. In the last of those temptations the devil had shown Jesus all the kingdoms of this world and had promised to give them to him if only he would worship him. Jesus rejected the temptation with the words, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:10). Jesus had faithfully served the purpose of the Father, even to the point of dying upon the cross. Now he had been raised from the dead and has been given the place of supreme authority over the whole universe; “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18). All the kingdoms of the world are his and shall be his. They are gained not through self-service, but through humble obedience to the Father.
He made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:7-11)
It is to this end – that all might acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord – that Jesus now commands his disciples, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (28:18-20).
The primary verb in this command is not "go", but "make disciples". Jesus commands us to make disciples of people from every nation, from all backgrounds and cultures. We are not simply to seek converts but are to make disciples; we are to bring others to recognise that Jesus Christ is Lord and to teach them how to follow him and live for him. We can only do this as we ourselves live as disciples of the Lord Jesus – as we seek to obey all that he has commanded. Thankfully, we have not been called to do this on our own. Jesus has promised to be with us every step of the way. It is only as he is with us by his Spirit and is working in us to transform us into his likeness that we can be used by him to transform the lives of others. We cannot sell what we do not have.
This is the end of Matthew’s Gospel, but it is far from being the end of the story. Jesus took his followers back to Galilee that they might resume the life of discipleship and take up again the ministry he had thrust them into when he had been with them. It is the beginning of a new phase in the great story of God’s redeeming work – and we are now part of this story.
Risen Saviour, I call you Lord; may this be more than mere words. Help me to live by every word that you have spoken. And by your Spirit, fill me with your resurrection life so that through a life that radiates something of your presence and through words that speak of you, others may acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord and join me in a life of glad discipleship.