Journey into Joy Series — The Appearance on the Mountain

Number 10 in a devotional series using as a resource the book, Journey Into Joy, by Andrew Walker.

 

Scripture; Matthew 28:16-20

 

What key questions and unusual observations did you note as you read the passage?

 

How does this appearance fit in the timetable of the other appearances?

 

What does “some doubted” mean?

 

What other Scriptures help us to fill out what Jesus meant when he spoke about the authority given to him?

 

What are the key elements of Jesus’ great commission to his disciples?

 

Why is the promise of verse 20 important?

 

What is meant by the last few words, “end of the age” or “end of time” as it is variously translated?

 

What are their implications for understanding the passage?

 

How does this appearance fit in the timetable of the other appearances?

 

It is essential to read all the different accounts and the beginning of the book of Acts to get the full picture of the appearances of Jesus.  For example, Luke tells us in Acts 1:3 that the appearances of Jesus covered a period of 40 days. However, in his Gospel, most of the 24th chapter is dedicated to Easter day and there is little sense of a time span before the ascension described in verses 50,51.    The story is similarly condensed in Matthew. Verses one through 15 of chap. 28 talk about Easter day and verses 16 through 20 detail appearance we are studying with no hint of the intervening time.  The Gospel of John gives us a little more sense of elapsed time by letting us know about consecutive Sunday appearances by Jesus in chapter 20 and then describing a later appearance in Galilee in chapter 21.   The composite summary in Mark 16:9-20 does indicate some passage of time but gives no details.

 

The appearance we focus on today is only recorded in Matthew. However there are probably two other books of the New Testament that allude to it. Mark 16:15 contains a version of the great commission but the setting is not explicitly described. First Corinthians 15:6 mentions an appearance to 500 brothers at once. This is likely the appearance in Galilee on the mountain that is described here in Matthew 28.   The language in Matthew 28 seems to allow for more than just the 11 being there.   This is likely the last appearance of Christ before the ascension, with the possible exception of the appearance to James that is mentioned in first Corinthians 15:7.

 

What does “some doubted” mean?

 

In verse 17 is there seems to be a contrast between those who worshiped and those doubted.  This suggests that there were others present besides the 11; that the 11 were those who worshiped, and some of the others doubted as some of the 11 had originally.  The Greek word translated doubt is also used in Matthew 14:31.  There it describes Peter’s response when he was walking on the water and began to look at the waves and started to sink.

 

What other Scriptures help us to fill out what Jesus meant when he spoke about the authority given to him?

 

The Authority of Jesus
Daniel 7:14 Son of Man given an everlasting kingdom
John 5:22, 23, 27 God has given Jesus authority to judge
John 13:3 The father has put all things under the Son
John 17:2 Jesus has authority over all peoples
1 Corinthians 15:27 God has put everything under his feet
Ephesians 1:20 – 22; 1 Peter 3: 22 Seated at God’s right hand, given authority over all spiritual powers
Philippians 2:9 – 11 A name above every name
Revelation 17:14 Lord of Lords and King of Kings

 

 

 

What are the key elements of Jesus’ great commission to his disciples?

 

Go

 

Some have described this construction as, “while you are going…”   The emphasis of Jesus is that the disciples will not remain by themselves, isolated from the world, but will be going out into various places to carry the message and make disciples also among peoples not like themselves as Acts 1:8 makes abundantly clear.

 

Make disciples  — the one main verb of the verse

 

It is not two words in Greek but one. The Greek root is the one from which we get the word mathematics.  It means to teach or enroll another as a learner.   While the KJV translated it as simply “teach,” most modern translations including the NK JV use the phrase “make disciples.”     One could also use the word “disciple” as a verb as Young’s Literal Translation does.

 

All nations

 

The Greek word is the one from which we get the word ethnic so the sense is all the people groups.  (Isa. 60:3; Mk. 11:17; Rom. 16:25,26; Rev. 5:9)   At our Bible study, one participant reminded us that at Pentecost many nations were present and heard the Good News in their own languages.

 

Baptizing

 

The first thing to note is that baptism is important and is commanded by Jesus.  It is not optional.

 

The second important thing to note is that we are to be baptized in the triune name; the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  This liturgical formula provides one of the most unifying descriptions in Christianity today. Nearly every branch of Christian faith baptizes people using this phrase.

 

Teaching them to obey

 

It is important to keep the second half of this part of the great commission together with the first half.  Jesus is not talking simply about informing others, about giving them head knowledge, he is talking about helping them to put into practice what he has taught.  His sermon on the mount also focused on not just knowing what he taught but putting it into practice.

 

Why is the promise of verse 20 important?

 

There is a wonderful blessing hidden in the Greek of verse 20. There is a Greek phrase that is translated in English simply as “always” that literally means “the whole of everyday” or “all of all your days.”   It brings home the idea that this expression which is used only here is meant to assure us that Jesus will be with us every moment of every day!   This promise is important not only for encouragement but for our empowerment.

 

What is meant by the last few words, “end of the age” or “end of time” as it is variously translated?

 

According to Vines dictionary, the word that is translated “end” here “does not denote a termination, but the heading up of events to the appointed climax. “Aion” (Greek) is not the world, but a period or epoch or era in which events take place.”  (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)   Sometimes we think of holding out until the bitter end; but Jesus is looking to be with us until all things culminate in his completed victory, a much different perspective.

 

What is the role/significance of this event/passage in the Gospel story?

 

This is definitely a fulfillment of Jesus’ instructions to the disciples to meet him in Galilee. Matthew chooses to end his Gospel with the account of this appearance of Christ. Why is that?  One reason may be to emphasize the great commission and the great promise that follows it.

 

What inspirational “take home” impressed me?

 

William Barclay noted, and I think it is inspirational to see, that this passage did not just give the disciples a job. It gave them first an authority derived from Jesus’ authority. Under that authority it gave them a job description, a high purpose, a goal.  But it goes even farther and promises them a presence to be with them as they carry out their responsibilities.  Often we attempt to carry out the great commission without remembering that is not given in isolation.   We cannot attempt it in our own authority nor can we succeed at it without the living presence of Christ through his Spirit working through us.   But in the context of his authority, and indwelt with his living presence, we can go out and make disciples with confidence!  So we hold these three ideas from this passage closely together; authority, commission, and presence.

 

 

 

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