Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore 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 observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Understanding And Applying the Text
Matthew skips over the other appearances of Jesus. He goes straight to the mountain when Christ ascended. But he makes no mention of the ascension. Instead, Matthew ends his gospel with Christ’s last charge to the eleven. Matthew selected the part of greatest importance. That is when Christ appeared he commissioned the eleven as apostles. They were to go to all the world with the message of eternal life.
Even after seeing Jesus some doubted. This confused them. They had no category to process a dead man coming to life. Dead men stay dead. There had to be a rational explanation. Had he not really died? Was this an illusion? But the others saw Him too. There was no explanation. They had seen the dead raised before. The daughter of a woman (Matthew 9::25,) Jarius’ daughter (Luke 8:54, Mark 5:41-42,) Lazarus,(John 11:43). That is only three. We know there were others. Jesus told John’s disciples He had raised the dead. (Matthew 11:4-5). But they could explain those away. “Maybe they weren’t really dead.”
But they saw Jesus die. They saw Him wiped. They saw Him die on the cross. They saw a Roman soldier drive a spear into Him. They saw Him buried. And dead men stay dead. Yet here He is. There had to be an explanation. No wonder they doubted.
But that is also an encouragement to us. Our faith is not perfect. We doubt. But look how Christ used the eleven to evangelize the world. The prosperity gospel preachers who tell us that we need to have enough faith are wrong. God does not rely on our frailties. He is not limited by our faith or belief. God made the whole world and everything in it. He is not limited by you or me in any way. But He allows us to take part in His work. The fact they doubted I find very comforting.
Jesus tells the eleven He had received all authority. The Son of Man received dominion over all from the Ancient of Days. (Daniel 7: 13-14) This initiates the last stage of history. It culminates with Christ’s return to the earth in glory.
He charged them to make disciples. Note, He does not charge them to make converts. They were to make disciples. Changing a heart was above their pay grade. They were to make disciples. And how were they to make disciples? They were to baptize in the name of, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They were to teach observance of what Jesus had taught. That’s it! Baptizing and teaching were the total jobs. That is our job, baptize and teach. This is the great commission.
Christ gave the Great Commission base on His authority. Since Christ’s dominion is universal, the gospel must go to the whole world. This is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. In Abraham, God will bless all the nations. (Genesis 12:3)
Jesus was Immanuel i.e. “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23) Now He promises to be with His disciples to the end of the age.