The time - soon after the resurrection.
Jesus - risen from the dead!
It has been a season in which the disciples have spent time with their King - eating, talking, laughing, remembering, rejoicing. But now the moment has arrived for Jesus to return to the Father. So he tells the eleven disciples to meet him on a mountain in the area where it all began.
The place where they had heard so much of his teaching, had seen so many miracles, so many displays of his power over demons, and the healing of diseases, and the causing of the blind to see and lame to walk and mute to talk and dead come to life.
So much authority.
Thus, they do as he commands, and head to the mountain that he describes. And he's there, waiting.
They come up over a little ridge, and as soon as they set eyes on him, some fall down on their faces, and worship. But not all. No, some of these eleven men, disciples of Jesus - this King, this one with so much authority, who had accomplished so much - some hold back.
And they doubt.
They aren't sure about worship. About risking themselves totally to him.
But in the face of this mixed response, Jesus is undeterred. Gentle. Kind. Just as he has been so many times before. He approaches and draws near to them - some prostrate in worship, some standing, wondering, doubting, and hesitating - he comes close and utters the last words he will ever say to anyone on terra firma, words that mark the end of his earthly ministry, and the commencement of theirs, the reason why they exist:
"Dear friends, God, our Father, has given me all authority and power in heaven and on earth. I am the King of every domain and every sphere. All things in the universe obey my voice.
Therefore, I am telling you - make disciples.
Disciples who will follow me.
Now, you may wonder, 'What does that look like?'
You must spend your life going to all nations. Yes, all nations. From Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and to the very ends of the earth! Every people group, none excluded. Make more disciples, who will make more disciples, who will make more disciples.
You must spend your life baptizing them into the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit - the great, Triune God.
Finally, you must spend your life teaching these new disciples every last thing that I taught and commanded you - leave nothing out! Thus, you must know me, and all these things, so that you may help them obey and mature in me.
And, my friends, as you are on this mission,
making more and maturing disciples,
giving yourself totally to the work of the kingdom of God,
and to me,
be sure of this promise: I will always be with you.
Right up to the very last day of this age, when I return and complete what I began, and usher in the new heavens and new earth, and make all things new and right, so that we may live with our Father, forever and ever, world without end.
So will it ever be in the kingdom to come!"
And so the mission began. Eleven men looking out upon a big, wide world that did not know this King, and had not yet heard this message. Eleven men with a command to follow and a message to proclaim.
And the Spirit came.
And the church spread.
And the world was turned upside down.
Because these eleven men - some worshiping, some doubting, all commissioned - followed Jesus.
And because of them, we know Jesus. And we too must worship, obey, and follow him. For the mission hasn't changed from the moment that he uttered it.
In the words of David Platt,
"We are followers of Jesus. We have died to ourselves, and we now live in the King. He has saved us from our sins and satisfied our souls. He has transformed our minds with his truth, fulfilled our desires with his joy, and conformed our ways to his will. He has joined us together in bodies of believers called local churches for the accomplishment of one all-consuming commission: the declaration of his gospel and the display of his glory to all the peoples of the world.
This task involves all of us. No child of God is intended by God to be sidelined as a spectator in the great commission. Every child of God has been invited by God to be on the front lines of the supreme mission in all of history. Every disciple of Jesus has been called, loved, created, and saved to make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus until the grace of God is enjoyed and the glory of God is exalted among every people group on the planet. And on that day, every disciple of Jesus - every follower of the King and fisher of men - will see the Savior's face and behold the Father's splendor in a scene of indescribable beauty and everlasting bliss that will never, ever fade away.
This is a call worth dying for.
This is a King worth living for."
(from Follow Me, by David Platt)
(The first half of this post is a reflection based on my study of the end of Matthew's gospel. It bears the influence of a few translations I studied, and my own thoughts on what may have also been said in that moment. If you'd like to hear further reflections and implications of this text, I invite you to attend Calvary Community Church this coming Sunday for our worship service, beginning at 10:30am. And, to explore how to follow Jesus and make more and maturing disciples, I highly recommend our new Sunday Class, "Follow Me," using David Platt's materials and curriculum, which will take place every Sunday morning at 9am throughout the month of February.)