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Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

“All Nations”

Matt. 28:19-20

The Risen Lord Jesus Christ gives his disciples a direct and definite command here.  There are four parts to this command.  The first is that the disciples are to go into the world.  The disciples are not to retreat into some safe and secure spiritual home.
The world is a place of sorrow, struggle, sickness and injustice.  Yet God will neither abandon nor condemn the world.  This is the message the disciples are to take into that world.

The second part of this command is that the disciples are in turn to make disciples of the nations, of all peoples.  A disciple is not only one who believes but one who follows.  Jesus calls all those who are “weary and carrying heavy burdens.”  This is the message the disciples are to bring to a troubled world.  The third command is that they are to baptize “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”  Baptism joins us together with the Trinity, the God who is three in one.  The fourth command is to teach those who come to obey all that Christ has commanded.

Jesus’ fundamental teaching in Matthew’s gospel is the centrality of mercy.  As we have noted, Jesus twice quotes from Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy not sacrifice” (Matt. 9:13; 12:7).  Jesus calls us to serve those who are vulnerable (Matt. 25:31-46).  Jesus also defends victims.  When we are angry with someone, when we lust after someone, when we make money into a god we are creating victims (Matt. 5:21-30; 6:24).  Jesus is especially concerned with bad religion, the religion of superiority and pride which rather than making one fit for heaven makes one “a child of hell” (Matt. 23:15).

How can we accomplish this task?  We can only do so through Jesus’ continuing presence with us, guiding and leading us.  Here is his greatest promise: He will be with us always, to the end of the age.  This is both our hope and our joy.

Eternal and merciful God may I follow your command to disciple all nations.  May I share your grace and power both through my words and through my actions.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.