“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, 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’.”
– Matthew 28:16-20
The disciples were headed to Galilee. Jesus had asked them to meet him there. Galilee is the place where their education began, and it was in Galilee where it ended and where they were commissioned.
During their journey to Galilee, there must have been some questions in their minds. What would be the outcome of this meeting with their teacher and master?
Weeks earlier, they had witnessed him taken down and destroyed. He had bled and died on the cross at Calvary. He had subsequently been raised from the dead and appeared to them on several occasions.
They were on their way to find out what would happen next. When they met up with Jesus, some of them worshiped him while others had their doubts. Notwithstanding this, Jesus greeted them with what is commonly known as the great commission to the church.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” His authority was from God the father.
He said in Matthew 11:27, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
How extensive is that power? That power gives him authority to rule in heaven and on earth. There is no question about his rule. He has absolute sovereignty. “…At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Phil 2:9-11
Even though the disciples had gotten a glimpse of his glory on the mountain of Transfiguration, at Galilee, they saw a Jesus transformed. In this authority, he commissions the disciples and the church.
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. … Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”
This command shows God’s purpose to reconcile with all people of the world. Wherever people are, the church is called to go there and evangelize, and make them disciples.
While Jesus’ ministry was, for the most part, limited to the Jews, in Palestine, he sent the disciples, and to us, the church, to every nation and every race in this universe. They were to live out the teaching that Jesus had imparted to them during his time with them.
They were called to baptize in the name of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus’ instructions were that they teach everything he had commanded them.
The disciples, even though the task was difficult, and even though they met with many obstacles, remained faithful to their mission. They were transformed from an insecure, frightened group with lack of understanding to an unflinching army of believers who focused on the cross of Jesus Christ.
Because they were faithful, we in the church today, are following in their train. We, too, are called to build God’s church here on earth. Our core mission is to catechize and baptize, until our Lord comes, or He calls us home to our eternal rest.
In commissioning the disciples, the church, he left most comforting words for us. His assurance to them and to us today are most comforting words. He promised that he will be with his church always, even to the end of the age. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.