Jesus’ Final Command Matthew 28:16-20

Matthew 28:16-20

Matthew begins and ends Jesus’ earthly ministry in Galilee.  Or “Galilee of the Gentiles” as it says in Matthew 4:15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

  • One of the fulfilments statements of Matthew—he quotes Isaiah 9
  • Why the Gentiles
    • It was a throughway between the Northern part of the Roman Empire and the Southern part, which included Egypt, the Middle East, and Ethiopia.
    • If you were going north or south and weren’t going by boat, this was the way that you were going, so even though it belonged to Israel, it was very Gentile inhabited and Gentilic in culture.
    • Galilee was a perfect place for the Gospel to begin its spread to the ends of the earth.  This place, in fact was part of God’s plan in the fulness of time as Gal. 4:4 says.

Matthew also emphasizes mountaintop experiences—not as a moment of great faith, not metaphorically, but literal, physical mountaintops.  For instance:

  • The most famous mountain is unnamed, but the sermon he preached there is named by it—“the Sermon on the Mount”
  • Jesus regularly retreated to the Mountains for times of special prayer and communion with the father
  • The transfiguration happened on a mountain
  • There was the second most famous sermon preached on the Mt. of Olives—“the Olivet Discourse”
  • And the garden of Gethsemane was on the Mount of Olives. 

Here, Matthew ends his gospel on a mountaintop, marking what happens here and what Jesus says here as an important event.  1.  Faith, worship and Doubting;  2.  Making Learners—i.e. building the Church; 4. Remembering the Truth

  1. Faith, worship and doubting — But while they all worshipped, some doubted even in the presence of our risen Lord Jesus
    1. True faith results in worship—they fell on their faces before Jesus’ feet
      1. Worship involves all of us—body and soul
      1. Physical worship might be false, but true worship will always have some element of physicality, even if it’s just being present with the congregation
      1. True faith is required to truly worship, but there’s also this piece:  true worship encourages true faith, too.
        1. Worship won’t necessarily lead to faith, but it will feed it. 
        1. Don’t starve your faith, worship the one who gave it to you.
    1. But faith in a sinner’s heart is never pure, it is always mixed with doubt and disbelief.  I’m encouraging you to doubt, I’m just stating a fact.  We can’t help but to doubt, it’s our way.
    1. It’s beyond our imagination, isn’t it, that the disciples had any doubt on this mountaintop. 
      1. They stand there with Jesus and there’s doubt in their hearts. 
      1. Like the priests who paid the guards not to talk about the truth of the resurrection in verse 12, everybody’s heart is geared toward self-sufficiency and doubt.
    1. What we see in the disciples is true of us:  just because you’ve been converted doesn’t mean you won’t doubt.
      1. You’ll doubt your conversion.
      1. You’ll doubt the truths of the Bible.
      1. You’ll doubt the certainty of your eternal state, or that of your loved ones, or even the goodness of Godly things in your life.
      1. If it’s true and it has to do with your Savior, you better believe as sure as he was standing in front of them in Galilee, you’ll have opportunity to doubt it.
    1. It’s part of your sinful nature.
      1. Doubt doesn’t mean you aren’t a believer. 
      1. In fact, doubting your salvation, or any of the  blessings of God, should confirm you in his grace.
      1. The committed unbeliever—the person who doesn’t have any interest in the gospel, he won’t give God a second thought.
      1. The deluded unbeliever—this is the person who thinks he’s a true believer, but isn’t—he also doesn’t think too much on those things.  The deluded unbeliever is too comfortable in the show they put on and they believe their own righteousness is enough.  They don’t doubt, because they’re trusting in themselves.
    1. Here’s the principle:  Don’t revel in your doubt, but don’t let it drag you down either.  Learn to rest in the completed work of Jesus.
      1. When you doubt, use it to remind you of your savior and that He is where you need to find comfort.
      1. You might even state it to yourself like a question:  Is Jesus’ work enough for you to be adopted, forgiven, and blessed by God?
      1. If you believe it, remind yourself you do when the doubts creep up.  Remind yourself that it’s God’s word that tells you the truth and hold it tightly.
  2. Making Learners— 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.”
    1. The focus of Jesus’ statement is on “making disciples”
      1. The word disciples means “learner”
      1. So the new disciple in v. 19  is naturally linked with the teaching in v. 20
    1. Why do we know that the focus is on making disciples and not “going” or “baptizing” or “teaching” or even “to keep” for that matter?
      1. Make Disciples is the only true verb in Jesus’ statement, the others are participles and infinitives.  Grammatically speaking, that means they are dependent on “make disciples”
      1. As far as going, or as it says in v. 19 “Go therefore” we should understand that Jesus is saying we should take the opportunities presented to us in our normal, everyday lives to make disciples, regardless of any normal social barriers—“of all nations”.
        1. The call to be a missionary is in the Bible, it’s just not here.
        1. This is a call to be a normal, everyday believer who seeks to live out his or her faith by sharing it.
      1. Maybe a good way to think of it is, “as you go, then, seek to make disciples”
    1. Baptism is part of being a disciple—I’m not going to take time here to defend the correctness of covenant baptism that includes infants and children, but I will quote our confession and BCO that it is a great sin to neglect baptism.  If you want to follow Christ, baptism is the beginning, whether it’s a personal beginning or continuation of your beginning by having your children baptized and then it becomes their beginning as well.
      1. Baptism is a sign that sets God’s seal on the recipient’s heart.  It’s an invisible seal made indelible by God’s grace.
      1. Like regeneration itself, baptism is a passive sign for the recipient.  You simply receive it, you don’t do anything in it.
      1. By grace the believer was indwelt by the Spirit and given life and faith.  As a symbol of this one sided grace the disciple is baptized with water.  It’s water because it represents the cleansing Christ gives his people. 
    1. The participle Teaching comes on the heals of the trinitarian formula—in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
      1. If you run across one of those churches that only baptize in the name of Jesus based on the book of Acts, don’t go.
      1. For the word teaching to follow this formula at least implies part of our teaching should include the Trinity. 
      1. We begin with the gospel—pure, plain, simple message of God’s salvation in Jesus.
      1. And in the process, as you explain that Jesus is the Son of God, at some point you’ll have to cross the Trinitarian bridge, won’t you?  Don’t shy away from the mysteries of the faith, teach them to the new disciple. 
    1. Remember this, making disciples is part and parcel with Jesus’ promise in 16:18 “I will build my church”.
      1. A convert isn’t a convert without them becoming a part of Jesus’ church.
      1. Make Jesus’ church your church.
      1. The true church is invisible and made up of believers, which God chose from the foundation of the world, and we can’t see them with 100% accuracy here and now.
      1. One objection to the teaching that believers should be attached to a visible church, is that my faith is mine and not a corporate faith. 
      1. And that’s true, your faith is yours, but the Bible never teaches that it’s a regular practice for true believers to remain separate from the visible church. 
    1. What is clearly taught in scripture is that you should be devoted to Jesus’ church.  I’m speaking here of the Universal/catholic church, of which KVPC is a part, but not necessarily KVPC.
      1. From practical viewpoint:
        1. The hot coal example
        1. Your gifts are for the church’s good—1 Cor. 12 and 14; Romans 12 all use the metaphor of the body to describe how you have been gifted with something the church, your local congregation of which you belong needs.
      1. Theologically, biblically speaking
        1. Believers are the bride of Christ—by faith you are married to Christ, just like a human marriage we should take vows committing ourselves, visibly, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
        1. Jesus tells you to be a part of his church—“I will build my church” is his promise of which you are a part if you believe in him as a savior.  Do you need more than the word of the man who died for your sins as a reason to be a member of the church?
        1. Maybe you want to see it in the Bible—you are practicing Berean!  Proof that the NT teaches membership—2 Parenthesis 8:7?  No, not a verse, but more significantly a pattern.
          1. Missionary journeys in Acts—as they returned to places they returned to specific groups they knew to “strengthen the disciples”.
          1. The Epistles are addressed to people in places, with some degree of familiarity, even if the author hasn’t visited yet (Romans) he still is confident there is a group of worshippers.
          1. The Book of Revelation is written to the seven churches.
          1. 1 Timothy 5 talks about taking care of your widows in the church.
          1. I acknowledge that nowhere in the Bible says to write a name down on your church roll, but in each case I mentioned,  it implies that these people know who to expect to see when they gather for corporate worship.  They know who the widows are they are responsible for.  The elders and deacons know who they’re supposed to help, love, and pray with.  The ladies know who to check on, who to ask about, who to visit and make a meal for. 
          1. Membership vows simply confirm the teaching of the Bible and bind you to Jesus’ visible church of which his invisible church is a part of.
  3. Finally, Remembering the Truth—“I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
    1. That word end, doesn’t just mean the end of something, it refers to God’s goal of redemption.  It’s bigger than time and space—it’s God’s grand purpose.
    1. That means Jesus’ final words in Matthew are a reiteration of that famous Christmas promise, “Immanuel—God with Us”.  “I am with you always, for the purpose of accomplishing God’s grand design”.
    1.  How important is that for us?  How sweet of a truth is that to us?  Jesus is building the church, we are simply his instruments—trust his message, trust his methods, trust him with the outcome.  Trust him with your life—both the joys and the struggles are part of God’s final goal—the redemption of all things.  Trust Jesus for that. Amen.