As I was doing today’s Morning’s Office, a passage from the Gospel of Matthew was one of the readings. It’s a well-known text, Matthew 28:16-20. It reads,
Meanwhile, the eleven disciples set out for Galilee to the mountains where Jesus arranged to meet them. When they saw him, they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them the commandments I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.
I love how sometimes you will read a familiar passage from the Bible and become completely befuddled by it. I can’t tell you how many times I have read a passage and immediately thought, “What? I don’t think I have ever read this before. I never noticed this. Wait, this is really in here?”
Today, I was struck by the first two sentences stating that the eleven disciples fell down before Jesus while some others hesitated. Were they falling down in worship? Why did others hesitate? Were they afraid? Unsure? What were they thinking? I don’t think I ever noticed those sentences before.
If we are familiar with this story, we have probably heard a sermon or teaching on the later phrase “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Often, we are taught the command in this sentence is “go.” Preachers will preach that we are to go evangelize, go do ministry, leave home and go to another country to bring the Gospel message. On and on the sermons can go.
What’s interesting, though, is ‘go’ isn’t the command. It should be translated, ‘while going.’ The command is actually the word ‘make.’ While going, we are to make disciples. And, preachers preach about making disciples. Like, times a million. Of course, it is what the local church should be doing, making students and disciples of those who wish to follow the way of Jesus, the way of love.
But what struck me the most this morning and what I think might be better news than the command itself comes at the end of the passage where Jesus says, “And know that I am with you always, yes.”
Why haven’t I heard a preacher preach that for 35 minutes on a Sunday? That’s what I need to know, experience, and remember. Most days, I forget that or simply do not believe it. Most days I don’t think I live as if this is true. But, if is it true, it changes everything!
The God incarnate, the invisible God made visible, is with me always. Yes.
The Divine isn’t some distant deity but instead is as close to us as our very breath. Present with us always, through all things, in all things. Yes.
How about that for some good news? Yes.