This is the final Devo of the 10 part series from the last few weeks. It got pushed to today because I had a glitch last Monday that through everything off by one day. We’ll be back on track tomorrow. –Adam
A marvelous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat. (St. Athanasius)
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 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, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (Matthew 28:16-20; context)
Today is the last day of our ten day look at Jesus’ Resurrection appearances. We close as Matthew does, with Jesus’ final words in the Gospel. Notice that his very last words: “I will be with you every day,” echo the name that the angel Gabriel gives to him: Immanuel, which mean “God with us.” Thus, God’s presence bookends the Gospel – that’s pretty cool.
But leaving that tidbit, let’s talk about the word “therefore.”
Matthew’s account of the Gospel comes to a close, Jesus says the above words to the disciples. By the power, by the authority of Jesus, the disciples are sent out. And by the work of the disciples down through the centuries empowered by Christ, we too hear these words, we too are sent out. Jesus’ authority spurs us to go, make, and baptize. Indeed, Jesus is the author, the source of our going, our making, and our baptizing.
Scholars call this the “Great Commission,” and within this commission is also great warning. Jesus says, “Therefore, go.” The therefore makes our commissioning contingent on recognizing that everything we do because of God’s call in our lives generates from the authority given to Jesus. The day, the hour, the minute we start to think that we are ministering to people by our own authority is the time we need to take a step back, fall to our knees, and ask God for forgiveness. Paradoxically, the better we get at following Jesus, the easier we fall into the trap of failing to recognize the authority of Jesus prompting and empowering our actions.
But when we come to God in prayer or when we come to the table to receive communion, we come with empty hands and dry mouths. We come reminded that our gifts, like the gifts of bread and wine, have their source in God alone. We come not trusting in our own righteousness, but in God’s manifold and great mercies. As the body and blood of Christ nourish us, the power and authority of Christ compel us to go, make, and baptize; to trust, hope, and believe; to love, serve, and proclaim.
So go out and by your love and your loving witness, make disciples – and remember that Jesus is with you always, to the end of the ages.
Dear God, I was with you while I was still in my mother’s womb and I will be with you when I pass through death into new life. Help me to remember that your presence abides in my life, and help me act out of that knowledge every day. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, rejoicing that you raised your Son from the dead and showed me that nothing in all of creation can separate me from your love.