Summary: Jesus calls his disciples onto a hill where he commissions them to go into the world.
Matthew records the final appearance of Jesus on a mountain. We don’t know which mountain it is but we know that he had invited his disciples to meet him there. Maybe it was the Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus had met Moses and Elijah and received assurance from his Heavenly Father; or maybe it was the mountain where he taught the beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5. What we do know is that he told them to go to the mountain.
Its not surprising that Jesus told them to go to a mountain to meet him – he dealt with the great and important issues “on the mountain”.
Even today we speak about encounters with Jesus as being ‘mountain top’ experiences. Our own Christian journey is made up of many such ‘mountain –top moments’. Have you noticed how God’s presence and particularly his communication with his people is associated with the mountains. So, when Jesus has his last discourse with his followers, he goes to the mountain.
Matthew tells us that when they (his disciples) saw him they worshipped him!
They worshipped him because he was the risen Christ, the risen Messiah. Prior to this Jesus was regarded by them as Rabbi, Teacher, Master or Lord.
But now he was Christ – Messiah!
Now he was worthy of their worship – worship that had been reserved for Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now he had received all authority in heaven and on earth! They had never worshipped in this way before – this was Christian worship. And while they worshipped him Matthew says that some doubted. I think Christian worship is always like this; there are always some amongst us who doubt.
Even as we sit here in church this morning there are many among us who have doubts. No matter how strong our faith or assurance may be there are still occasions for doubt. Some doubt the power of Christ over their circumstances; some doubt his healing power or even his desire to heal. Some even doubt that he has risen from the tomb. Jesus, himself, had said that even the resurrection of the dead would not necessarily convince everyone. (Luke 16: 31).
What is important is that even though they doubted – they were there! They came and they left, I am sure with a fresh revelation of Jesus Christ.
Before we proceed to consider the great Commission that Christ has given us, I want to reflect on some points of Christology (what we believe about Jesus Christ).
Firstly, he is given all authority in heaven and on earth. “All authority has been given to me,” says Jesus to his followers. Let’s understand that this supreme authority has been his from the very beginning. Jesus is God. He was with God from the beginning and it was through him that everything was made. All of creation came into being through him.
Now, he chose to limit himself as a human being for a time – but during that time of limited existence he was in the Father and the Father was in him. The life he lived as a human was lived by faith in God, his Father.
The kind of life Jesus lived here on earth as a human being is the kind of life that he wants us to live – to live every moment in the Father.
Once Jesus was raised from the dead and glorified he was no longer limited by time and space, so he could manifest his authority. And he chooses to show this authority by commissioning his followers to take the good news to the ends of the world, promising them that…..
Secondly, “I am with you”
This was the promise given by God to Joseph when the angel announced Jesus’ birth: He quotes Isaiah 7: 14 ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him “Immanuel” – which means God with us. Now, confirming his identity as the One whom God has sent, he affirms to all of those who follow and serve him: I will be with you; I will be your Immanuel.
And thirdly, he reveals his plan: ‘Go into the world and make disciples’. It is of the greatest importance that we understand what Jesus means when he commands us to make disciples. Our task is not merely to make converts, or to make believers, or to make church members or to make Methodists, or Baptists or Anglicans… we are to make Disciples by teaching them everything that Jesus had taught his disciples. A disciple is a pupil, a learner, an amateur. One of the great differences between Jesus’ disciples and the disciples of other Rabbi’s is that Jesus’ disciples never qualify – they always remain learners of Jesus.