When Matthew closes his story of Jesus, it is not with the ascension, but with a worship and teaching. What are some things Matthew felt we should know about Jesus?
A. I have yet to find a Christian who, during their years as Christian has not experienced both the spiritual mountaintops and the spiritual valleys. Times in which their faith was strong and bold, and times in which their faith was weak and cold. Before stepping into judgement upon a brother or sister who is struggling, I would encourage you to look into your own life and see your own struggles.
B. I believe people like Thomas whose faith doubted Jesus but then then became as strong as any recorded, or Peter who had to answer three times the question “do you love me?” by Jesus and then was called to ministry again, understood the ups and down in spiritual walk.
C. Paul records for us that after the resurrection Jesus appeared to more than 500 disciples at one time, many commentators believe our text today includes that group of people on the mountain in Galilee. Whether it does or not, the Bible does not specifically tell us, but I also know people well enough that like Thomas, some of those probably had some doubts.
D. I don’t beat people up who struggle with temporary doubts or even lapses in faith, I call them to see Jesus and listen. Our text today began in what seems to be a strange way for many of us readers. (READ Matt. 28:15-17).
E. The word translated “doubted” also means “hesitated, to waver, to be uncertain.” Who doubted and what they doubted the text does not tell us. But we know there was both worship and uncertainty happening in this text.
F. What do you do with doubt when your heart wants to worship? Listen to Jesus and find your calling. When you claim for yourself the direction Jesus has for your life and then allow that direction to guide you, you will find the words given here to wipe away your doubts and leave you with the heart of worship. Listen to your Jesus talk to you.
I. Great Authority
A. Jesus steps into their worship and into their doubt with powerful words. Words that affirm him and words that commission them (and us through them). Our text reads (Matt. 28:18).
B. I want that to sink into our worship and faith. ALL authority there is – when people say, “You can’t judge me, the Bible says not to judge” I have an answer to the charge. I don’t judge you. I can’t judge. I can let Jesus, his teachings, and his authority do the judging. If I claim to be a Christian than I submit to the ALL authority. I don’t submit to MOST authority, to the parts that don’t sound antiquated, to the parts that affirm my self-worth but don’t challenge my actions. I submit to the ALL authority.
C. I am far from perfect. Some of you know me better than others and can easily point out my failings. This is not about how to beat up other people and feel good about self. This is about coming in worship before Jesus and accepting His authority as the only authority that matters.
D. When John was taken up to see heaven and to listen to those around the throne, he heard somethings that bothered him. READ Rev. 5:1-4. Everything was overwhelming to John, but now it seems like worthiness was limited because no one was worthy enough to open the scroll. No created being had the authority because nothing was worthy enough. (READ vs. 5-14)
E. Worth and authority in heaven and earth belong to Jesus. With that great authority, Jesus stood before all who worshipped and all who doubted and commanded them.
II. Great Command
A. Our text continues (READ Matt. 28:19-20a).
B. The weight of this command is found in the word “go.” We are not to wait for people to come to us, we are to go to them. Jesus would have His people on the offense and not always on the defense. Wars are not won when a military is only on the defense. To win a war, an army must go. It must launch an attack. For us, it is a spiritual battle.
C. What we are called is not to destroy people, but make disciples. We are called to help people see Jesus as worthy, as one with all authority, as one who not only shows us how to live this life, but in following his authority gives us eternal life. The mark or sign of a disciple is seen in the beauty of the act of baptism.
D. Paul describes for us this great transformation in Rom. 6:1-4. Baptism in not just an immersion in water, it is an immersion into Christ and a transformation to a new life.
III. Great Promise
A. Out text has Jesus ending this encounter with these words (READ vs 20b). There is little worse that feeling alone. Loneliness is a death sentence to many. The worse punishment we inflict upon prisoners is solitary confinement.
B. Jesus speaks to these who have come to worship but still hesitate or doubt. He speaks of his great authority, and he give them a great command, but he closes with letting them know a great promise. You are never alone.
C. David Livingston was a world-renowned doctor/missionary by the time he returned to his native Scotland to address the students at Glasgow University. The previous sixteen years had been spent in the service of God on the continent of Africa. As he stood before those young men and women, the tremendous price exacted of Livingston was plain to see. More than 27 fevers had coursed through his veins, leaving his body emaciated and ravaged. One arm hung useless at his side, the result of being mangled by a lion. The core of his message to those young people was: “Shall I tell you what sustained me amidst the toil, the hardship, and loneliness of my exile? It was Christ’s promise, Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end.”
A. That same promise is extended to you this day. Become that disciple of Jesus, go forth and teach others the good news, and know you are never alone. Let’s do this together as the disciples of Christ.
May God Bless You,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister