As You Go – Matthew 28:16-20

Having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptizing them — to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days — till the full end of the age.’ (Mt 28:19-20 YLT)

“Death conquered by a Risen Savior” is a message that certainly warrants heralding to all who will hear. It should not surprise us then, that the now-risen Jesus Christ would commission His disciples to do just that in verse 19 of chapter 28. It is striking that while Matthew ends his gospel account with the resurrection of Jesus, he does not leave it with an empty tomb; rather for his concluding narrative Matthew skips ahead a number of days leaving us with a final command to Jesus’s disciples to spread the message of the empty tomb. Matthew is not alone in his report; in the New Testament as a whole there are about ten appearances of the risen Lord; in eight of these accounts, Christ gives an explicit commission involving telling others. There is an inherent link between a risen Savior and the sharing of His message. The fact that Christ is risen from the dead ought to stir His disciples to want to tell others about Him and His life-giving message.

In this brief two sentence conclusion to his gospel, Matthew repeats the word “all” (Greek, pas) four times in the span of three verses. “All authority is given to make disciples of “all nations,” teaching them to observe “all things,” with the promise of His presence with them “all the days.” Such extensive commands and promises are meant to expand the faith of weak disciples. Because of Christ’s power and presence, we do not need to hold back either in the assortment of our audience or in the content of our message. In each of these “alls” we find themes that have commonly surfaced throughout Matthew’s Gospel. As such, this text, commonly called “the Great Commission,” serves as a comprehensive summary of the entire Gospel. This summary recapitulates: the authority of Jesus Christ as the Son of God (all authority), the move from the particularity of the Old Covenant to the universal nature of the New (all nations), the continuing value of the law of God (all things that I have commanded), and the abiding presence of a risen Christ as sovereign Lord of the universe (I will be with you all the days).