Lastly, on a mountain in Galilee, Jesus gave his followers the
most important job in the world. Go; teach, preach, make
disciples, baptize. Jesus promised to be with them always.


The eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain 
which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him,
they 
worshiped Him; but some doubted.

Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has
been
given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and
make
disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the
name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to
observe all things that I have commanded
you; and lo, I am with
you always, even to the end of the
age."  Amen

                                                  Matthew 28:16-20 NKJV, condensed


                                      Parting Words

It's all over except for an ending. And what do we find but
another new beginning. We have the same old characters--Jesus
and his original disciples. But there's something different now.
Jesus is not physically present all the time. He's with them for
a little while and then disappears again. It's as though Jesus is
gradually showing them they did not need their five senses
in order to believe and know he is with them.

Except for Matthew, the disciples were Galilean fishermen.
Jesus had told them to meet him in Galilee, not by the familiar
seashore but on a mountain. Some felt uncertain and a little
fearful about this resurrection business, but they went and
worshipped Jesus anyway. Faith obeys, even when it doesn't
understand.

It was becoming obvious that the old familiar Jesus was not
going to be with them much longer. Yet his work must go on.
Therefore he said to his followers, "Go and make disciples of
all nations. . . ."  Jesus spoke from a position of power. He
had paid his dues, in fact he paid the dues for all mankind.

Contemporaries of Jesus had hoped he was the one who
would set up God's kingdom on earth. Now it was becoming
more clear that if there was to be any heaven on earth, it would
be up to his followers to make it happen. Here's how: "Go, get
out there and make disciples everywhere. Baptize in the name
of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Teach others to do everything
I commanded you. I am with you always, I will be with you
always, to the end."

"Go" starts with followers like you and me, acting on faith
and doing what Jesus said to do. Just like the disciples had
journeyed back to the mountain on Galilee, so we must take
those first steps, believing the promise that Jesus will meet us
as he said he would. The idea that faith is a private matter
does not fit with the great commission. Mary Magdalene and
others spread the good news that Jesus is alive. We are to do
the same, because here's the scoop--Jesus is still alive!

This faith that possesses me is not just for me and my family.
I'm to tell the neighbor down the street. It's not just for people
I feel safe with, it's for people beyond my comfort zone. Not
just for people in my native country, it's for people in
countries that are foreign to me.

Those who believe are to be baptized--immersed, soaked,
bathed and drenched-- in the name of all that God is. Baptism
symbolizes being buried with Jesus in death and rising with him
to new life. It means death to the reign of sin in our lives, and
yes to the desire to be God's new creation.

And here's the kicker: Jesus said, "I will be with you always."
No longer restricted to one time and place, his death and
resurrection freed Jesus to be in every time and in every place.
This concept of the Holy Spirit was new to these disciples, yet
not really new.

Matthew began his Gospel with Joseph wrestling over
questions about Mary, his fiancee, who was pregnant. Then
Joseph had a dream wherein an angel told him not to worry
because she is with child by the Holy Spirit! Long ago Isaiah
the prophet had already named the child Immanuel, which
means God-with-us.

Now in the final line of his Gospel, Matthew returns to the
God-with-us theme. Father, Son, Holy Spirit; all in one mysterious
package which we call the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity is
both simple and incomprehensible. Incomprehensible if we
insist on understanding it. Simple if we seek his Presence with
humble, grateful hearts.

Jesus is still alive. He lives within, around and among us, now
and forever. We walk and talk with Jesus as often as we choose
to do so. On a mountain top, around the supper table, when we
lay down to sleep, stop for a traffic light, wait in the checkout line,
welcome a stranger or look into the eyes of the poor. In our joys
and in our sorrows, when we go and when the way is blocked
and we're forced to stay. Jesus is with us always. Therefore
go out into the streets and byways and share the good news.

 

Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

 

Icebreaker:  When you part company with someone, what do
                        you commonly repeat when you sign off?

 

What do you talk about most frequently in your conversations with others?
            Why do you like to talk about these topics?
            How high on your list of favorite topics is religion, your
                    church or the things you read about in the Bible?

 

How did you learn that you have a Father in heaven who loves you?
            List some people who helped you arrive at the faith you have today.
                        Another way of asking that question is, Who discipled you?
            List some people you helped to lead on the pathway toward God?
                        In other words, Who are you discipling?

 

The final directive from Jesus is to go and share our faith experience
with everyone, everywhere.
            How comfortable are you talking to someone outside
                    your religious circle about what you believe?
            Where are you on the spectrum between the roaring lion and the
                        quiet little mouse when it comes to sharing your faith?
            If everyone were like you in regards to spreading the good news
            about Jesus, would Christianity have survived for 20 centuries?

 

There's an Old Testament story about Moses who thought he
wasn't God's man for the job because he "couldn't talk". God told
him to take his brother with him to be his mouth.
            Who is (or could be) your "brother" to help you vocalize your beliefs?

 

If you have a dislike for talking about your faith, or if you dislike
people who talk about their faith, take some time to think about
why you feel that way.
            If Jesus were to respond to your thoughts on this topic,
                    what do you think he would say to you?

 

Actions speak louder than words. Give examples of how to
demonstrate the love of God without using words.

 

If you decided you were going to obey the great commission in
this text, what steps would you need to take in order to get started?

 

Discuss what you know about God using these three descriptive phrases:
the Giver, the Gift, and a life-time Guarantee.

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